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

Guidelines, not Codes

Permalink for this paragraph 1 We advocate guidelines rather than a code of practice so that research can retain a flexible quality over time, be responsive to diverse contexts, and be adaptable to  continually changing technological contexts.  When one considers that ethical assessments are always operationalized via some sort of practice (method), it becomes clearer that an adaptive, inductive approach can yield potentially more ethically legitimate outcomes than a simple adherence to a set of instantiated rules.

Permalink for this paragraph 1 Such an approach takes on board precisely the fine-grained details and context of each specific case or issue. The emphasis on a dialogical approach highlights the notion that there exists a range of possible, ethically legitimate judgments and decisions. In contrast with the comparatively straightforward and unambiguous top-down deduction from a given principle, this approach thus highlights the researcher’s responsibility for making such judgments and decisions within specific contexts – a responsibility that is often all the more uncomfortable as it often requires choices between a range of competing values and norms.  This approach not only privileges the often subtle details of a specific context, but also preserves the freedom and integrity of the researcher as the one ultimately responsible for his or her ethical choices.  Hence, this revised version of the AoIR Ethical Decision Making document adheres to the same underlying principles as the first: A dialogic, case-based and inductive approach to ethics.

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