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Ethics and Responsibility of Research

Ethics and responsibility are essential aspects of research, particularly in today’s environment when technological advances have simplified the process of performing experiments and collecting data. The topic of research ethics and responsibility encompasses a broad spectrum of topics, such as, but not confined to, data integrity, human subject protection, and the effect of research on society. Howard Gardner and Michael Davis are prominent philosophers who have written substantially on ethics and responsibility. Gardner’s view on ethical responsibility in professionals concentrates on the notion of “good work,” which he describes as high-quality work involving people in meaningful pursuits and benefits an entire society. Such a theory has immediate ramifications for researchers, as it implies that they must evaluate the efficacy of their work and its effect on society. Contrariwise, Michael Davis stresses the significance of adhering to professional regulations and codes of ethics. He contends that professionals should observe such standards not just because their job requires it but also because it encourages ethical behavior and defends the interests of consumers or society. This essay will examine Howard Gardner and Michael Davis’ perspectives on professional ethics and how their theories relate to the field of research. It will also explore two other sources, one that challenges the ethics and responsibilities of research, and the other, a newspaper article that supports the significance of ethical considerations in research.

Howard Gardner’s theory of professional, ethical responsibility is based on the concept of “good work.” He believes that professionals are responsible for doing good work, which includes using their talents and knowledge to assist society while upholding high ethical standards (Gardner 7). Gardner’s perspective has immediate ramifications for researchers who are in charge of performing studies that have a substantial impact on society. Researchers must guarantee that their work is scientifically sound and also promotes society’s best interests. This implies that researchers must address the ethical aspects of their study, including data integrity, human subject protection, and the potential societal consequence of their findings. Gardner claims that society gives professionals the resources and support they need to do their work, resulting in a social compact that requires professionals to use their skills and knowledge for the public benefit instead of personal gain. Professionals cannot just state that they bear no responsibility for how their work is applied; rather, they must make a good-faith effort to guarantee that their work serves society. His perspective extends to all fields, including science, education, and research.

Gardner’s view on research highlights the need to accept responsibility for the ethical consequences of research activities. Researchers have to collaborate, participate in public debate, and set ethical principles and standards to lead their work toward ethical and responsible decision-making. They must accept responsibility for the larger societal consequences of their study, collaborate across disciplines, and constantly track and evaluate the societal consequences of their work. Gardner’s philosophy offers scholars a structure for making ethical decisions, even when confronted with complicated and nuanced ethical dilemmas. They have to accept responsibility for the ethical consequences of their research, engage actively to advance the public good, and guarantee that their expertise and information are used ethically and effectively. Researchers have the opportunity to contribute to a more just, egalitarian, and sustainable society simply by doing so. Although some may argue that Gardner’s argument places too much responsibility on individual professionals, he highlights the value of collaboration, dialogue, and continuous reflection in fostering ethical professionalism. He contends that rather than putting the burden of accountability completely on individual experts, professionals should collaborate to set ethical guidelines and norms that support ethical decision-making.

Contrariwise, Michael Davis’s theory on professional responsibility revolves around the concept of rule-following (Davis 66). He contends that professionals have a responsibility to obey their profession’s norms and regulations since such rules are established to guarantee that professionals act morally and appropriately. Such a responsibility is founded on the concept that professionals have particular expertise and experience in their sector and are thus entrusted with specific responsibilities. This is particularly essential in domains like science, where the hazards to human subjects and the general public are high. Researchers can guarantee that their work is both ethical and socially acceptable by adhering to established rules and laws. Nevertheless, Davis emphasizes that there could be circumstances in which simply following the rules is insufficient. In such instances, professionals must utilize their judgment to make decisions. This necessitates a more in-depth awareness of the ethical values that underpin their career, as well as the capacity to balance the potential advantages and hazards of their work.

Although both Howard Gardner and Michael Davis are concerned with professional ethics, their viewpoints differ significantly. Gardner highlights the significance of approaching professional ethics in a more holistic and values-based manner (Gardner 4). He contends that professionals must think about broader social and cultural repercussions of their work in addition to obeying laws and regulations. Contrariwise, Michael Davis concentrates on the significance of adhering to existing rules and regulations. He contends that professionals have a responsibility to adhere to these guidelines to retain the integrity and credibility of their work. Although Davis recognizes that professionals might have to use their own judgment while making ethical decisions, his philosophy remains deeply grounded in a rule-based framework for professional ethics.

Davis’ theory on professional responsibility can offer researchers a clear and unequivocal framework to utilize when making ethical decisions. He offers researchers a clear set of principles for ethical behavior by highlighting the significance of adhering to established laws and regulations. For instance, Davis’ theory might lead researchers to confidentiality and informed consent issues. By adhering to established norms and regulations, researchers can ensure that they receive informed consent from research subjects, comply with stringent confidentiality rules, and preserve the privacy of their participants. Furthermore, his philosophy can assist researchers in avoiding ethical conflicts caused by individual beliefs or biases. Davis urges researchers to abandon their individual opinions and values to ensure that their work is unbiased and objective by highlighting the necessity of obeying laws and regulations.

Objections are bound to arise in any discourse of research ethics and responsibility. David Resnik presents an example of such an objection in his book, “The Ethics of Research with Human Subjects: Protecting People, Advancing Science, Promoting Trust.” Resnik’s issue is that researchers frequently misunderstand what defines ethical behavior in research and that such misunderstandings can contribute to unethical behavior. He contends that researchers may assume they are acting ethically even though they are not, which can have major consequences for the reliability and credibility of the research. According to Resnik, other widespread misconceptions among researchers include the notion that informed permission is always sufficient to assure ethical activity and the notion that the aims justify the means. He claims that such opinions might lead to unethical actions by researchers, including misrepresenting data or conducting a study without informed consent. Resnik’s argument emphasizes the significance of ensuring researchers comprehend ethical research behavior. It implies that researchers may require additional training and instruction to prevent misconceptions and guarantee their work is actually moral. Moreover, his objection implies that ethical behavior in research is sometimes not obvious or simple to define. It may necessitate a thorough evaluation of several aspects, including the participant’s interests and rights, possible hazards and benefits of research, and the influence of research on society.

Vindu Goel’s article, “As Data Overflows Online, Researchers Grapple with Ethics,” published in the New York Times, is another source that supports the significance of ethical considerations in research. This article illustrates the enthusiasm of scholars who now have access to massive amounts of personal data generated by digital companies, which has the potential to change social science research. Nevertheless, Goel also underlines the issues that occur as a result of doing research on individuals who may not even be aware that they are being studied. The article notably highlights the Facebook study, in which the social network modified almost 700,000 people’s news feeds to determine how the alterations influenced their emotions (Goel). Goel also discusses the possibility of bias and discrimination in online data-driven research since algorithms and models may reinforce existing discrimination and biases. He emphasizes the need for researchers to be aware of such challenges and take actions to reduce them in their study. The article emphasizes the significance of ethics and accountability in research, especially in the field of online data collecting and processing. It emphasizes the importance of researchers being aware of potential privacy infringement and ethical considerations when dealing with sensitive data. Goel also stresses the significance of using data for legitimate research reasons, gaining informed consent, and protecting data privacy. He emphasizes the responsibility of researchers to acknowledge and eliminate discrimination and biases in their research.

Conclusively, this essay has examined Michael Davis and Howard Gardner’s perspectives on ethics and responsibility in research. Davis thinks that ethical considerations should be woven into the fabric of scientific study, whereas Gardner emphasizes the significance of researchers understanding the broader implications of their work and consciously dealing with ethical problems. Besides, David Resnik’s book offers an overview of moral values for research on human subjects, and Vindu Goel’s article focuses on the ethical issues of research in the digital age. The main message is that ethics and responsibility are critical aspects of scientific research and that researchers have to incorporate ethical concepts into their work as well as engage in continuing discussion and reflection concerning ethical issues. Hence, to guarantee that scientific research remains a force for positive change across the world, researchers must consider their obligation to safeguard their subjects seriously and ensure that the ethical consequences of their work are examined.

Works Cited

Goel, Vindu. “As Data Overflows Online, Researchers Grapple with Ethics.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 13 Aug. 2014,

Gardner, Howard. The ethical responsibilities of professionals. Project Zero, Harvard University, 2001: 1–19.

Davis, Michael. “Professional responsibility: Just following the rules?” Business and Professional Ethics Journal 18.1 1999: 65–87.

Resnik, David B. The ethics of research with human subjects: Protecting people, advancing science, promoting trust. Vol. 74. Springer, 2018.


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