The Ethical Work That Regulations Will Not Do

Abstract
Ethical concerns in e-social science are often raised with respect to privacy, confidentiality, anonymity and the ethical and legal requirements that govern research. In this article, the authors focus on ethical aspects of e-research that are not directly related to ethical regulatory framework or requirements. These frameworks are often couched in terms of benefits or harms that can be incurred by participants in the research. The authors shift the focus to the sources of value in terms of which benefits or harms are understood in real social situations. A central claim of this paper is that the technologies that are used for research are not value neutral, but serve to reinforce some values at the expense of others. The authors discuss databases, modelling and simulation, network analysis as examples of technologies which affect the articulation of values. A view of e-social science as a techno-scientific constellation of researchers, technologies and society, in which values are always already embedded, is put forward as a basis for a view of ethics as reflexive and active engagement, conducted with awareness. Methodological pluralism and proactive openness are also proposed as responses to this view of the ethical dimensions of e-social science.
Keywords research ethics  philosophy of technology  philosophy of social science  e-social science
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