Virtue ethics in the practice and review of social science research: the virtuous ethics committee

Dave Carpenter

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


    In this chapter I build upon the case I argued in Volume 1 of this series
    (Carpenter, D. (2016). The quest for generic ethical principles in social science
    research. In R. Iphofen (Ed.), Advances in research ethics and integrity
    (Vol. 1, pp. 3–18). Bingley: Emerald). There I established arguments
    for eschewing principlism and other well-established theories of practical
    ethics, such as deontology and consequentialism, in favour of virtue ethics.
    I drew on the work of Macfarlane (2009, 2010) in making a case for virtuous
    researcher and virtuous research. In this chapter, I draw attention to the
    role and conduct of ethics committees in reviewing research. If we are to
    consider the ethics of research and researchers, then we might also consider
    the ethics of reviewing and reviewers. Whilst there is an abundance of codes
    and similar documents aimed at guiding research conduct, there is relatively
    little to guide ethics committees and their members. Given the argument
    that a virtue ethics approach might help committees evaluate the ethics of proposed research and researchers, it could equally be the case that virtue
    ethics could be useful when thinking about the work of committees and ethics
    review. In this chapter I attempt to relocate and develop Macfarlane’s
    work by examining its application to the work of ethics committees and
    the virtues of their members. In particular, I will consider the virtues that
    reviewers should exhibit or demonstrate when reviewing research, and what
    we might take as the telos of ethics committees.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAdvances in Research Ethics and Integrity
    Subtitle of host publicationVirtue Ethics in the Conduct and Governance of Social Science Research
    EditorsNathan Emmerich
    Place of PublicationUK
    PublisherEmerald Publishing Limited
    Number of pages16
    ISBN (Electronic)978-1-78714-607-5
    ISBN (Print)978-1-78714-608-2
    Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2018

    Publication series

    NameAdvances in Research Ethics and Integrity


    • Virtue ethics
    • research ethics
    • social sciences
    • ethical review, research ethics committees


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