Philosophical approaches to making ethical decisions

This workshop focussed on ethical issues relating to research, research publications and the use of research resources and data. The session was conducted by Associate Prof. Henry Linger from FIT who is also the co-chair on the Monash University Research Ethics Committee.

Date: Thursday 12 Nov 2016
Time: 11am – 2pm
Location: Room H 7.84, Caulfield Campus.

There were some interesting discussions during the session on the moral, social and ethical dilemmas that researchers should consider before commencing the project. For instance, Should we do a project on developing an atomic bomb?

Another interesting message shared during the session was that … Ethics should be considered in the project even it does not involve people. For example, even if one is developing an algorithm, one should consider what is the potential use and mis-use of it to the people using it, or with respect to the data it is run on? (even if it is not going to be used in that particular way currently)

Other factors to consider during the ethical clearance process are: social responsibility, human rights, animal rights, compliance with the law, and health and safety.

There was an interesting video screened which raised the question of: What should researchers do with data that was not ethically collected? Should we used results from unethical experiment? What if it is for the greater good to humanity? In my opinion, there are arguments both ways to this question. Sometimes the situation is such that it becomes (nearly) impossible to collect that data again (eg. the effect of atomic bomb on people) but I believe, the situation should be avoided as much as possible.

from the list of readings suggested during the session, I found the following article very interesting. It discusses the ethical principles such as openness, respect for IP, non-discrimination, protection of participants during the research, etc . The citation for the article is as follows:

  • Shamoo, A. E., & Resnik, D. B. (2009). Responsible conduct of research. Oxford University Press.

Overall, I really found the session very informative and interesting.