Stacy Carter is Deputy Director of the Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine at the University of Sydney; she researches and teaches on the political and ethical dimensions of public health. Much of Stacy’s work uses qualitative and/or deliberative empirical methods, and she has a particular interest in empirical ethics methodology. Her research is designed to bring public perspectives into policymaking in domains including vaccination, screening, de-implementation and especially overdiagnosis (including in wiserhealthcare.org.au). She tweets sporadically: @stacymcarter


Rebekah McWhirter is a Research Fellow at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research (University of Tasmania), Menzies School of Public Health (Charles Darwin University) and the Centre for Law and Genetics (Faculty of Law, University of Tasmania). She has a PhD in medical history (Tasmania) and a MSc in public health research (Edinburgh). Her work investigates the interface of health research, ethics and law, using quantitative and qualitative research methods. Her particular areas of interest are ethical and legal issues around genomics, community consultation and Indigenous health.


Since approximately the 1990s, there has been an increasing interest in the use of empirical methods in bioethics, and the relationship between the empirical and the normative in bioethics. Empirical bioethics has different manifestations, in part because of diversity in the disciplinary background of its practitioners, although empirical bioethics tends to take its methods from social science, broadly conceived. The field is now well developed enough to have its own methodological literature  and is large enough to support some early systematic reviews. However methodology for empirical
bioethics remains diverse and there are many methodological issues still unresolved.

Many researchers in Australia and New Zealand are using some kind of empirical methods to address normative or value-laden questions, and the AABHL conference increasingly includes work by empirical researchers. But aside from important work on reviews in bioethics by Ros McDougall,
this region has as yet made a limited contribution to the methodological literature on empirical bioethics. Australians and New Zealanders working empirically on bioethical questions tend to network in their substantive area of focus, so rarely have opportunities to discuss methodological
challenges with other ethicists. In addition, empirical bioethics researchers are located across and between disciplines, and may not necessarily identify themselves formally with bioethics. Significantly, legal research is increasingly moving beyond traditional doctrinal analysis to incorporate empirical
methods and theories from the social sciences, although empirical legal research remains under-theorised.