Drilling down into ethics: A thematic review of ethical considerations for the creation and use of 3D printed human remains in crime reconstruction

Rachael M. Carew, James French, Ruth M. Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
85 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The existing literature contains some exploration of the ethics concerning human remains in forensic and virtual anthropology. However, previous work has stopped short of interrogating the underlying ethical concepts. The question of how people understand and apply these concepts in practice, and what it means to act ethically, remain underexplored. This thematic review explores the ethical considerations that contribute to the creation and use of 3D printed human remains for forensic purposes. The three main branches of ethical theory are outlined to explore how they may apply to forensic practice. Key themes relating to 3D printing human remains in forensic contexts were explored to better understand the ethics landscape, ethical challenges, and the current guidelines in place. Through this thematic review, nine ethics principles were identified as key principles for guiding best practice: anonymity, autonomy, beneficence, consent, context, justice, non-maleficence, proportionality, and transparency. It is suggested that these principles could be incorporated into adaptable guidelines going forward to support ethical practice. The findings also suggest that holistic ethics cognition training may have value in supporting forensic scientists in ethical decision-making, together with procedural and structural design that may promote best practice and reduce cognitive load.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)330-342
Number of pages13
JournalScience and Justice
Volume63
Issue number3
Early online date22 Mar 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2023

Bibliographical note

Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences. This is an open access article under the CC-BY-NC-ND license.

Keywords

  • Forensic science
  • Forensic anthropology
  • Virtual anthropology
  • 3D printing
  • Ethics
  • Human remains
  • Cognition
  • Decision making
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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