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Ethical Principles

Ethical Principles

Ethical Systems

The Use Of An Ethical Matrix


Behaving as a scientist
Science has a system of rules and conventions some clear do not publish false data some unspoken a learned society is not bound to express a collective opinion on a scientific issue some regularly flouted publication of a PhD students work by the supervisor

The Inherent Values of Science

Free flow of information Honesty Curiosity Open-mindedness Value-free science

Academic science has rules and norms

Does academic science have an ethos?

How should a scientist behave? The Mertonian norms

The Mertonian norms

Communalism Universalism Disinterestedness Originality Scepticism

An approach first developed in the USA medical ethics by Tom Beauchamp and James Childress They built on the proposal by David Ross made in 1930 that the conflicting principles of Kantianism (deontology) and Utilitarianism were too rigid and what he called prima facie principles These were conditional principles that in a particular circumstance allow a stronger case to overrule a weaker one

The ethical duties of a doctor

Cause no harm Effect a cure or provide palliative treatment Respect a patients autonomy Non-maleficence Beneficence Autonomy

Treat patients fairly


Non-maleficence and Beneficence are mainly utilitarian Autonomy and Justice are mainly deontological Non-maleficence and Beneficence are two aspects of wellbeing

Principles are guides

There is considerable room for judgement in specific cases The ethical framework is relevant to multicultural, pluralist societies They work by providing action guides in specific circumstances

Theory of Justice Justice as Fairness

Expounded by John Rawls Justice is the first virtue of social institutions as truth is of systems of thought. A theory, however elegant and economical, must be rejected if it is untrue; likewise laws and institutions, no matter how efficient or well arranged, must be reformed or abolished if they are unjust. Justice is blind ( to wealth, age, sex, intelligence, ethnic background etc.) Justice requires equality of treatment

Groups having Ethical standing

Stakeholder groups Interest groups Claim to be subject to ethical consideration in their own right To have moral standing or ethical status Might include animals, biota or the biotic community or the biosphere (NB Rawls specifically excluded these because they are incapable of acting as rational agents in a social contract but commonly they are represented by a green organisation )

The ethical matrix

Provides a means of examining the ethical positions of all interest groups ensuring equality of treatment (justice/fairness). It helps to identify where one stronger principle might overcome a weaker one or where a compromise should be sought Separates well-being, autonomy and fairness

Respect for: Interest group 1

Best outcome

Best outcome

Best outcome

Interest group 2
Interest group 3 Interest group 4

Best outcome
Best outcome Best outcome

Best outcome
Best outcome Best outcome

Best outcome
Best outcome Best outcome

Research to provide public knowledge, freely available to all But what about secret government research? secret commercial research? Who owns the results - patents ?
The Diggers believed that the land belonged to everyone

There are no privileged sources of scientific knowledge Race, sex, politics ? Specialism ? Authority ? But certain classes and ethnic groups are under-represented in research.

Science is done for its own sake How impersonal is research in practice ? Research is competitive, not just in the search for funding but also for status. High achieving researchers tend to be highly ambitious? Personal feuds are rife in academia ? For example in disputes over priority ?

Knowledge for its own sake

A belief that scientific knowledge is politically and ethically neutral is challenged by the misuse of scientific knowledge

Science is the discovery of the unknown Plagiarism ? Publication of the same results in multiple journals ? Routine stampcollecting surveys ?

Is sceptical of given opinions Challenges accepted views

The ethos of academic research

Are the Mertonian norms simply an empirical (factual) generalization covering the observed behaviour of academics? There are many examples where they are not upheld BUT what would academia be like if they were not largely upheld? They represent a coherent ethos of academia and define an ideal pattern of behaviour

Does academic research have an ideology?

There is an obvious relationship between the Mertonian CUDOS norms and human rights e.g. the right of free speech and equality before the law Michael Polanyi the republic of science is an enlightened model for society at large In this context it is interesting to see how external social forces have transformed academia into more hierarchical and bureaucratic forms