Medicine, Time and the Good Life

The research group "Medicine, Time and the Good Life" FOR 5022 (FOR TiMed_Life) investigates ethical questions of the time structure of the good life with regard to new medical possibilities. Concepts of the good life are relevant for many research fields in medicine, ethics, social and cultural studies. The research group addresses these often little reflected background assumptions in a systematic and interdisciplinary way. It investigates (1) the relationships between medical concepts, technologies and practices on one hand and practical approaches and normative ideas about the temporal structures of human life on the other, (2) how the connection between medicine and life-time is presented and negotiated in scientific and (popular) cultural narratives, and (3) how the involved temporal aspects of the good life are to be understood and evaluated ethically.

The investigation of this innovative questions is based on three exemplary fields of medical practice in different phases in the life course: (a) the problematisation of biographical phases and transitions in the treatment of chronically ill people in young and middle adulthood, (b) the temporal planning, control and optimization efforts in middle age in the context of reproductive medicine, and (c) the (re)negotiation of ageing in the healthcare of older people. The relevant moral experiences, attitudes and convictions regarding the temporality of the good life are examined in close interdisciplinary cooperation between practical philosophy, medical ethics, medicine, modern German literature and media studies, and sociology/social psychology. The results are brought together in the perspective of an empirically and hermeneutically informed ethics of the good life in time, which seeks to take into account the socio-cultural conditions and contexts of application in their diversity and variability. The aim is to develop an ethically reflected understanding of the temporal conditions of the good life in time within the horizon of medical possibilities, based on concrete case studies.

The group will provide innovative research services in three respects: On one hand, it will analyse interdisciplinary temporal structures of the good life from the perspective of socially and culturally diverse actors. Secondly, it will diachronically and synoptically examine the phases of life and age groups that have been treated separately in medicine up to now. Thirdly, it accomplishes this on the basis of a methodically innovative synthesis of philosophical-ethical, social-empirical and hermeneutical terms and concepts of the good life in time.