It is not unusual for researchers in ethnography (and sometimes Institutional Review Boards) to assume that research of “public” behavior is morally unproblematic. I examine an historical case of ethnographic research and the sustained moral outrage to the research expressed by the subjects of that research. I suggest that the moral outrage was legitimate and articulate some of the ethical issues underlying that outrage. I argue that morally problematic Ethnographic research of public behavior can derive from research practice that includes (...) a tendency to collapse the distinction between harm and moral wrong, a failure to take account of recent work on ethical issues in privacy; failure to appreciate the deception involved in ethnographers’ failure to reveal their role as researchers to subjects and finally a failure to appropriately weigh the moral significance of issues of invasion of privacy and inflicted insight in both the research process and subsequent publication of research. (shrink)
Museums have a long history and practice of trafficking in looted antiquities. An account of the moral mission of museums and the moral obligations of museum trustees is given. Based on that account, a moral critique of the actions of museums and their trustees is provided, addressing some of the rationales that museums and their trustees have offered for justifying this activity of trafficking. Some of the rationale examined involves arguments regarding collective responsibility. It is argued that the loss of (...) provenance and provenience resulting from this practice is a particularly significant moral harm done to humanity as a whole. I argue that it is a mistake to categorize human remains and cultural artifacts as property and doing so is one source of the morally problematic activity. (shrink)
Ethical tasks faced by researchers in science and engineering as they engage in research include recognition of moral problems in their practice, finding solutions to those moral problems, judging moral actions and engaging in preventive ethics. Given these issues, appropriate pedagogical objectives for research ethics education include (1) teaching researchers to recognize moral issues in their research, (2) teaching researchers to solve practical moral problems in their research from the perspective of the moral agent, (3) teaching researchers how to make (...) moral judgments about actions, and (4) learning to engage in preventive ethics. If web-based research ethics education is intended to be adequate and sufficient for research ethics education, then it must meet those objectives. However there are reasons to be skeptical that it can. (shrink)
This case involves invasive research on captive wild populations of birds to study aggressive animal behavior. The case and associated commentaries raise and examine fundamental issues: whether and under what conditions, such research is ethically justified when the research has no expected, direct application to the human species; the moral status of animals and how one balances concern for the animal’s interests against the value of gains in scientific knowledge. They also emphasize the issue of the importance of a thorough (...) literature search to ensure appropriate research design and experimental design to minimize animal suffering. It raises the issue of circumstances in which such research should be modified or terminated. (shrink)
This case raises ethical issues involving conflicts of interest arising from industrial funding of academic research; ethical responsibilities of laboratories to funding agencies; ethical responsibilities in the management of a research lab; ethical considerations in appropriate research design; communication in a research group; communication between advisor and graduate student; responsibilities of researchers for the environment; misrepresentation or withholding of scientific results.
This case is part of a series of case studies used as an exercise within a program on research ethics education. The case involves research on genetic birth defects in a culturally distinct, closed religious community in which elders speak for the community. The case raises ethical issues of informed consent in such a setting; of collaboration with the community; of conflicts between the researchers’ responsibilities to the community as a whole and to individual subjects; of the impact of the (...) researcher’s findings on the practices and values of the community and issues regarding how the researchers share findings with subjects and how the findings are stored. (shrink)
Expectations and possibilities for employee loyalty are shifting rapidly, particularly in the for-profit sector. I explore the natureof employee loyalty to the organization, in particular, those elements of loyalty beyond the notion of the ethical demands of employeeloyalty. I consider the moral significance of loyalty for the employee and whether the development of ties of loyalty to the workorganization is in fact a good thing for the employee or for the employer. I argue that employees have a natural inclination to (...) extendloyalty to the organization and that organizations consequently have an obligation to make clear to employees the degree to which theorganization will recognize and reward employee loyalty. (shrink)