call for papers

Special Issue in ZEMO

Journal for Ethics and Moral Philosophy / Zeitschrift für Ethik und Moralphilosophie (ZEMO)

Special Issue: The ethical limits of biomedical research

Guest editors

Dr. Alexander Christian, Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf, Germany

Julia Mirkin, Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf, Germany

The Journal for Ethics and Moral Philosophy invites scientific papers on the ethical limits of biomedical research. 


Biomedical research encompasses a wide array of research aims and methods, some of which are morally controversial. Examples include heritable human genome editing, the development of human-animal chimaeras, gain of function research, the use of human embryonic tissues and embryonic stem cells, xenotransplantation and animal experimentation. In many ethical debates about such controversial research, demands for the limitation of basic, pre-clinical and/or clinical research emerge.

In this special issue, we want to gather the work of experts from the cross-section of research ethics and bioethics who focus on scientific freedom, ethical and moral issues of controversial research in biomedicine and the regulation of research processes. The special issue will comprise contributions that (i) explore the tension between scientific freedom and ethically justified limitations of research freedom in biomedicine, (ii) provide critical arguments and overviews on chances and risks associated with controversial research endeavors in biomedicine and (iii) discuss the various moral premises, discursive models and institutionalized practices employed to negotiate limitations of research freedom in biomedicine. 

The questions this special issue addresses include, but are not limited to:

  • What are the epistemic, political and moral arguments for scientific freedom in biomedicine?
  • What types of positive and negative freedom exist in biomedical research for professional agents, scientific communities and research institutions?
  • What kind of moral reasons can trump – in the light of what empirical evidence – legally warranted and prima facie plausible rights to freedom of science in biomedicine?
  • What are the specific risks and benefits associated with controversial research in biomedicine such as heritable human genome editing, gain of function research and experimental research with human embryonic stem cells (etc.)?
  • Are there strong, even decisive arguments for or against research moratoria or permanent bans on certain research endeavors?
  • What do formal risk-benefit-analyses or informal rationales on risks and benefits reveal about the moral acceptability of specific types of controversial biomedical research?
  • What role do scientific and moral experts play in discourses on the regulation of controversial biomedical research?
  • How, if at all, can we safeguard vulnerable stakeholders and fairly represent their interests in research policy making?
  • Which discursive formats / types of societal discourse on controversial biomedical research are able to foster the representation of marginalized groups?


Submissions must be in English and should be 8000-9000 words long. The text must be anonymized and prepared for blind review. Detailed submission guidelines can be found at

In order to submit an article, please use the Editorial Manager System:

Note that paper submissions via email are not accepted. 

The submission deadline for the special issue is April 30, 2024.

New deadline: Juli 31, 2024

Editorial Process

All papers will undergo the journal’s standard review procedure (double-blind peer-review), according to the journal’s Peer Review Policy, Process and Guidance. Reviewers will be selected according to the Peer Reviewer Selection policies.


For any questions, please directly contact the leading guest editor: Alexander Christian,