Using cases with contrary facts to illustrate and facilitate ethical analysis

Science and Engineering Ethics 14 (1):103-110 (2008)
There has been increasing interest in developing practical, non-theoretical tools for analyzing ethical problems in public health, biomedicine, and other scientific disciplines so that professionals can make and justify ethical decisions in their own research or practice. Tools for ethical decisionmaking, together with case studies on ethics, are often used in graduate education programs and in continuing professional education. Students can benefit from opportunities to further develop their analytical skills, to recognize ethical issues, and to develop their moral sensitivity. One practical approach for illustrating and facilitating ethical analysis uses cases with contrary facts and circumstances, an approach which complements rather than replaces theoretical approaches to moral reasoning. Cases with contrary facts and circumstances are presented in two or more alternative ways so that the facts, circumstances, or framing of one version runs counter to that of the other version (s). Cases with contrary facts, together with practical steps for identifying and analyzing ethical issues, are likely to be useful tools for illustrating and facilitating ethics analysis and stimulating the moral imagination.
Keywords Ethics  Instructional methods  Moral reasoning  Research ethics
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DOI 10.1007/s11948-008-9055-8
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