Ulysses arrangements in psychiatry: from normative ethics to empirical research, and back

Ine Gremmen

in Empirical Ethics in Psychiatry

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780199297368
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754586 | DOI:

Series: International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry

Ulysses arrangements in psychiatry: from normative ethics to empirical research, and back

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In this chapter I will discuss an example of how empirical research may contribute to normative ethics. The example concerns Ulysses arrangements. How may empirical research into Ulysses arrangements encourage normative ethical thinking about this issue?

I shall first introduce Ulysses arrangements, and give the background to such arrangements in the Netherlands. I will then outline our empirical investigations into this subject. I shall present several results from our study and discuss their relevance for normative thinking on the issues at stake in Ulysses arrangements. I shall argue that our study's results provide material for further normative analysis, including evidence that Ulysses arrangements, as seen from the perspective of caring practices, are different in several important respects from how they are seen from the point of view of their origin in normative analysis.

I do not want to suggest that this is the only way in which empirical work and normative analysis are related to each other. Scientists doing empirical work, for example, inevitably employ normative frameworks: they do not collect and analyse their data ‘from nowhere’. I have discussed this aspect of the relationships between empirical work and normative frameworks in previous papers (see Gremmen and Davis 1998, Gremmen 2001) and will not discuss it further in this chapter.

In the last section of the chapter, I shall summarize how our empirical research may enhance normative ethics concerning Ulysses arrangements in psychiatry, and use the results to identify some of the key ethical issues at stake in these arrangements.

Chapter.  6500 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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