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 Group 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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