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Ethics Working Committee Draft. Do Not Distribute. For Review Only.

Ethical Pluralism

Permalink for this paragraph 4 As with the original AoIR document, this revision stresses ethical pluralism in its approach and advocates for guidelines, not recipes.  Ethical conundrums are complex and rarely decided along binary lines. There is much grey area in ethical decision-making.  More than one set of norms, values, principles and usual practices can be seen to legitimately apply to the issue(s) involved.  Hence, it becomes difficult to make judgments as to which set(s) apply, especially when one set conflicts with another in some way.  This forces the researcher to determine which is more relevant in a given context.  In contrast with those ethical judgments that usually do not give the researcher any trouble (because they are more or less unambiguous, algorithmic, “top-down” deductive applications of accepted norms and principles), ethical conundrums require us to first choose which norms, values, principles, and/or practices apply – and for this there are only guidelines, not strict rules.  Multiple judgments are possible, and ambiguity and uncertainty are part of the process and difficulty.  This document strives to maintain a stance of ethical pluralism.

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