Research Projects Prof. Dr. Claudia Wiesemann

Department of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine

Research Topics

Medicine and the Time Structure of the Good Life

Conceptions of good life have an impact on a whole range of research questions in medicine, ethics, and the social and cultural sciences. A research group led by Claudia Wiesemann is systematically and interdisciplinarily addressing these often little reflected background assumptions. To this end, the group is investigating the relationships between medical concepts, technologies and practices on one hand, and practical orientations and normative ideas about the temporal structures of human life on the other. We analyze how the relationship between medicine and lifetime is represented and negotiated in scientific, and (popular) cultural narratives, and how the temporal aspects of good life are to be understood and evaluated ethically. Interdisciplinary temporal structures of good life are examined from the perspective of socially and culturally differently situated actors. In addition, the phases stages of life, which have so far been treated separately in medicine, will be envisioned diachronically and synoptically. This is realized on the basis of a methodologically innovative synthesis of philosophical-ethical, socio-empirical and approaches.


  • Wiesemann, C. (2023): Fortpflanzung, Medizin und gutes Leben. Über einen systematisch vernachlässigten Zusammenhang. In: Vita brevis, ars longa, (hrsg. v. H.-J. Ehni, G. Marckmann, R. Ranisch, H. Tümmers), Kohlhammer: Stuttgart (im Druck).
  • King, V., Lodtka, P., Marcinski-Michel, I., Schreiber, J., Wiesemann, C. (2023):Reproduktives Timing. Neue Formen und Ambivalenzen zeitlicher Optimierung von Fortpflanzung und ihre ethischen Herausforderungen. Ethik Med 35, 43–56.
  • Wiesemann, C., Schweda, M. (2023): Medizin und die Zeitstruktur guten Lebens. Ethik Med 35, 1–5.
  • Schweda, M., Wiesemann, C. (2016): Die zeitliche Dimension des menschlichen Lebens und ihre medizinethische Relevanz. Jahrbuch für Recht und Ethik, 24:327-340.
  • Marcinski-Michel, I., Wiesemann, C. (2022): Fortpflanzung, Zeit und gutes Leben. Eine Analyse von Richtlinien und Stellungnahmen zur Reproduktionsmedizin. Bioethica Forum  15, 19.
  • Wiesemann, C. (2023): Robots, Babies, and What’s Time Got to Do with It.
  • Wiesemann, C. (2021): Das Gewicht der Zeit.

Ethics of Human Reproduction, Parenthood and Family

For many people, having children and starting a family are essential for a good life. Should the desire to have children remain unfulfilled, this may result in serious suffering for the affected individuals. For many people with an unfulfilled desire to have children, reproductive medicine offers help. However, quite a few procedures, especially those that require a contribution of a third party - be it a donation of gametes or embryos, or the willingness to carry a child to term - raise fundamental ethical, legal and psychosocial questions. These concerns encompass, for example, the scope of reproductive freedom, the moral status of gametes or embryos, the well-being of children resulting from these procedures, justice with regard to access to these procedures, or the commercialization of reproduction and, not least, the understanding of parenthood and family. The rights of children in medicine also play a crucial role in these procedures.


  • Wiesemann, C. (2021) Geburt als Appell. Eine Ethik der Beziehung von Eltern und Kind. In Gelingende Geburt. Interdisziplinäre Erkundungen in umstrittenen Terrains, (ed. O. Mitscherlich-Schönherr and R. Anselm), 173-186. de Gruyter: Berlin.
  • Wiesemann, C. (2021) Welcher Menschenwürdebegriff taugt für Kinder? In ZusammenDenken. Festschrift für Ralf Stoecker, (ed. R. Kipke, N. Röttger, J. Wagner and A. K. von Wedelstaedt), 181-203. Springer VS: Wiesbaden.
  • Beier K, Brügge C, Thorn P, Wiesemann C (Eds.) (2020) Assistierte Reproduktion mit Hilfe Dritter. Medizin –  Ethik – Psychologie – Recht Heidelberg, New York, Springer.
  • Wiesemann C (2016): Moral Equality, Bioethics and the Child New York, Springer.
  • Wiesemann C (2018): Which Ethics for the Fetus As a Patient? In: Schmitz D, Clarke A, Dondorp W, eds. The Fetus as a Patient. A Contested Concept and Its Normative Implications. London, New York: Routledge, 28-39.
  • Wiesemann C (2015) Natalität und die Ethik von Elternschaft und Familie. Zeitschrift für Praktische Philosophie 2, 213-36.
  • Wiesemann C. (2006) Von der Verantwortung, ein Kind zu bekommen. Eine Ethik der Elternschaft. C. H. Beck, München.
  • Nationale Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina: Fortpflanzungsmedizin in Deutschland - für eine zeitgemäße Gesetzgebung (2019). Halle/S. (Veröffentlichung der Nationalen Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina, Union der deutschen Akademien der Wissenschaften)
  • Deutscher Ethikrat: Embryospende, Embryoadoption und elterliche Verantwortung (2016)

Research Ethics, Especially Stem Cell Research

Innovative medical research often poses special ethical challenges. Stem cell research is an example of such a technology that raises complex ethical questions, especially when it comes to therapeutic applications. Our research addresses the ethical issues arising in the course of its clinical implementation. Through a comparative analysis of debates in Germany, Austria, Great Britain, and the USA, we examined how the medical potential of stem cell research can be fully exploited while ensuring the necessary safety of the patients involved. Relevant stakeholders, scientific committees and the public were involved in the development of appropriate guidelines and evaluation tools.


  • Hansen SL, Heyder C, Wiesemann C (2020) Ethische Analyse der klinischen Forschung mit humanen induzierten pluripotenten Stammzellen. In: Die klinische Anwendung von humanen induzierten pluripotenten Stammzellen. Ein Stakeholder-Sammelband, eds S Gerke, J Taupitz, C Wiesemann, C Kopetzki and H Zimmermann, Heidelberg: Springer, 197-239.
  • Heyder C, Hansen SL, and Wiesemann C. 2020. Ethical Aspects of Translating Research with Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Products into Clinical Practice: A Stakeholder Approach. The New Bioethics 26: 3-16.
  • Hansen SL, Holetzek T, Heyder C, Wiesemann C (2018): Stakeholder-Beteiligung in der klinischen Forschung: eine ethische Analyse. Ethik in der Medizin 30 (4): 289-305.
  • Lenk C, Hoppe N, Beier K, Wiesemann C (Eds.) (2011) Human Tissue Research. A European perspective on the ethical and legal challenges. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
  • Deutscher Ethikrat: Stammzellforschung – Neue Herausforderungen für das Klonverbot und den Umgang mit artifiziell erzeugten Keimzellen? (2014)

Autonomy and Trust in Medicine

In liberal and individualized societies, the patient's self-determination is rightly held in high esteem. However, the freedom of the individual in a highly complex world structured by scientific and technical rationalities only increases insofar as trust in persons and systems is made possible. An abundance of choices and the high risks involved in the practice of medicine leave even competent individuals incapable of taking action unless they are supported by trust-building social systems. Since autonomy is a key concept in modern societies, the same must apply to trust. After all, the vulnerability and insecurity of stakeholders tend to increase rather than decrease as modern medicine's scope for action expands. Hence, this research focuses on approaches to conceptualize autonomy in a more relational or social way. We investigated how interpersonal trust or system trust and self-determination practices in medicine are related, how they are generated or undermined, and how they are justified. Special attention was paid to organizations and institutions, e.g., the hospital, as well as collective actors, e.g., the family or patient groups. Which roles do they play in the interpretation and implementation of trust and autonomy in medicine?

  • Steinfath H, Wiesemann C et al. (Eds.) (2016) Autonomie und Vertrauen. Schlüsselbegriffe der modernen Medizin. Heidelberg, Springer VS.
  • Wiesemann C (2017): On the Interrelationship of Vulnerability and Trust. In: Vulnerability, Autonomy and Applied Ethics, edited by Straehle C, Routledge, New York, 157-170.
  • Beier K, Jordan I, Wiesemann C, Schicktanz S (2016): Understanding Collective Agency in Bioethics.  Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, 19:411-422.
  • Wiesemann C (2016) Vertrauen als moralische Praxis - Bedeutung für Medizin und Ethik. Autonomie und Vertrauen. Schlüsselbegriffe der modernen Medizin. Ed. Steinfath H, Wiesemann C et al. Heidelberg, pp. 69-100.


DirectorProf. Dr. med. Claudia Wiesemann
Prof. Dr. med. Claudia Wiesemann

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