Child’s well-being in ethical conflict

Principle investigators:
Prof. Dr. Christoph Rehmann-Sutter
Prof. Dr. Christina Schües

The comprehension of what a child needs to live well and happy, as well as how its wellbeing has to be seen within the context of its social environment and society, is controversial and has profoundly changed over the course of time. “Well-being“ has been a term reserved to describe the success of adults, contrary to the thriving child, for a long time. Nowadays, the „child’s well-being“ is standard repertoire in legal, social-scientific and psychotherapeutic discussions about family-intern conflicts and divorce related issues, just like it has been introduced in medical-ethical debates. Used as a forensic term on the one hand, commonly combined with „child endangerment“, and the universal concept of wellbeing on the other, it affects both present and future.

Focussing on the wellbeing of the child in various contexts establishes a new perspective that has to weigh between rational criteria, in terms of norms and values, and empathy for the individuals that are affected. It has to consider both theoretical observation and the lessons learned in practice, the specific topic at debate as well as its narrative constitution. This perspective and its interpretation of the concept of child well-being is backed by the observation, that well-being is always dependent from generative relations and social structures. To cover the term and its complex meanings including biographical, narrative and normative perspectives, our research refers to aspects of the good life, justice, relationships and temporality.

Our research takes up the specific case of pediatric stem cell transplantation.
Severe diseases, that can be treated by transplanting haematopoietic stem cells, pose a fundamental ethical and legal conflict: The well-being of one sibling is not equivalent to the well-being of the other. Without any medical indication, the healthy sibling undergoes an invasive intervention that is necessary to obtain blood stem cells out of bone marrow or peripheral blood. The indication for this procedure is only ensued by the disease of its sibling. Pointing out this triangular constellation, raising the question of how children should be dealt with and which role their families and medical personnel should play, could help understand underlying ethical viewpoints.

This specific case, that promises universal insights in the issue of ethical conflicts in terms of child welfare, has been questioned in a philosophical approach and is now dealt with in a qualitative social-scientific (“empiric-ethical”) project.

stem cell donation between siblings (empiric)

Saving relatives by stem cell transplantation.
Ethical issues, narrative reconstruction and psychosocial implications of pediatric blood stem cell transplantation

Gefördert vom BMBF ab Juni 2016

Finished project:
stem cell donation between siblings (philosophic)

Funded by the Thyssen foundation (October 2012 - September 2015)

Child’s well-being in ethical conflict


Stem cell donation between siblings
-  Empiric
-  Funded by the federal
   ministry of education
   and research


Stem cell donation between siblings
-  Philosophic
-  Funded by the
   Thyssen foundation

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