Science and Engineering Ethics 27 (6):1-14 (2021)

The internet, either as a tool or as an area of research, adds moral worries to an already complicated research ethical backdrop. Agencies, professional associations and philosophers have formulated research ethical norms designed to help scientists to arrive at responsible solutions to the problems. Yet, many criticize this reliance on norms. Somewhat more precisely, many claim that research ethical norms do not offer guidance. In the literature at least three arguments to that effect can be found. First, the research ethical norms fail to guide since they are inconsistent. Second, they fail to guide since they are too opaque. Third, they fail to guide since they cannot handle the moral complexity of issues scientists doing e-research face. In this paper I argue that these arguments are weak. The arguments are, in their original formulations, rather unclear. I try to improve the situation by spelling out the arguments with reference to a certain set of research ethical norms, to a certain account of action-guidance and with reference to certain important distinctions. It then turns out that the arguments’ premises are either untenable or suffers from lack of relevance. The arguments do not force us to conclude that research ethical norms fail to guide.
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DOI 10.1007/s11948-021-00342-5
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Moral Heuristics.Cass R. Sunstein - 2005 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (4):531-542.
Moral Thinking.Peter Millican & R. M. Hare - 1983 - Philosophical Quarterly 33 (131):207.
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Making Morality Work.Holly M. Smith - 2018 - Oxford, Great Britain: Oxford University Press.

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