Design Bioethics: A Theoretical Framework and Argument for Innovation in Bioethics Research.

Empirical research in bioethics has developed rapidly over the past decade, but has largely eschewed the use of technology-driven methodologies. We propose “design bioethics” as an area of conjoined theoretical and methodological innovation in the field, working across bioethics, health sciences and human-centred technological design. We demonstrate the potential of digital tools, particularly purpose-built digital games, to align with theoretical frameworks in bioethics for empirical research, integrating context, narrative and embodiment in moral decision-making. Purpose-built digital tools can engender situated engagement with bioethical questions; can achieve such engagement at scale; and can access groups traditionally under-represented in bioethics research and theory. If developed and used with appropriate rigor, tools motivated by “design bioethics” could offer unique insights into new and familiar normative and empirical issues in the field.