This chapter presents a virtue-based approach to research ethics which both complements and challenges dominant principle- and rule-based ethical codes and governance…
This chapter presents a virtue-based approach to research ethics which both complements and challenges dominant principle- and rule-based ethical codes and governance frameworks. Virtues are qualities of character that contribute to human and ecological flourishing, focussing on the dispositions and motivations of moral agents (in this case, researchers) as opposed to simply their actions. The chapter argues for the usefulness of ‘researcher integrity’, in the context of increasing interest internationally in ‘research integrity’ frameworks for regulating research practice. ‘Researcher integrity’ is analysed, including weak and strong versions of the concept (conduct according to current standards, versus reflexive commitment to ideals of what research should be at its best). Researcher integrity in its stronger sense is depicted as an overarching complex virtue, holding together and balancing other virtues such as courage, care, trustworthiness, respectfulness and practical wisdom. Consideration is given to educating researchers and university students as virtuous researchers, rather than simply ensuring that rules are followed and risks minimised. Several approaches are outlined, including Socratic dialogue, to develop attentiveness and respectfulness and participatory theatre to rehearse different responses to ethical challenges in research. Some limitations of virtue ethics are noted, including dangers of reinforcing a culture of blaming researchers for institutional failings, and its potential to be co-opted by those who wish to indoctrinate rather than cultivate virtues. Nevertheless, it is an important counter-weight to current trends that see research ethics as entailing learning sets of rules and how to implement them (to satisfy institutional research governance requirements), rather than processes of critical and responsible reflection.
In this unashamedly polemical piece it is argued that we should not jump into bed with virtue too quickly. It is suggested that the concept of virtue is dangerously ill…
In this unashamedly polemical piece it is argued that we should not jump into bed with virtue too quickly. It is suggested that the concept of virtue is dangerously ill defined, so it becomes what those in power hegemonically define it to be; that virtue’s rise may serve factional political purposes within social science; that system implications are frequently missed, side-lined or minimised so that virtue niavely becomes a purely individual construct; that aspirational codes, which expect a-contextual demonstration of ‘virtue’ from practitioners, need to be tempered with a dose of reality; and that the achievable ‘good enough’ is better than the unrealisable and idealised virtuously ‘perfect’. It is suggested that the implied centrality of ‘virtue’ in research is problematic, that being ‘critically virtuous’ has limits, and that better education will not necessarily lead to morality and integrity in research – any more than it does in the general population. Finally it is argued that ethics committees should focus on (probable) behaviours, rather than rather than imagined motives or vague character traits. Locating virtue in an individual is dangerous because it allows the system to blame and punish an individual, rather than acknowledge the collective responsibility of the whole system. It is suggested that we need to move from a purist pursuit of virtue to a more realistic and nuanced appreciation of the real world consequences of its adoption. Whilst the present emphasis on sound research ethics and responsibility is a positive development, we need to slow down.
The following chapter is aimed to explain what virtue ethics (VE) in business is, its philosophical background, its original themes, and new research opportunities. To this end, we will establish the distinctive elements of VE and its main sources and epistemological approaches. In particular, we will first describe VE in business based on Alasdair MacIntyre’s ethics and Modern VE in Business. Then, we will briefly show the Thomistic approach to VE in business and its main application to business theory. We will also consider a new epistemological proposal for VE in business in Positive Organizational Scholarship. Next, this chapter will explain briefly the original contributions VE in business makes to a theory of work and a common good theory of the firm. Finally, we will suggest new areas in which VE in business theory has not shown a significant outcome yet. Here, we will discuss new opportunities that VE authors might consider for research projects in new epistemological approaches, VE philosophers not yet studied in business ethics theory, spirituality-based theory (Jewish and Protestant mainly) and its connection with VE, and contemporary problems that firms are facing that can be enlighten from neo-Aristotelian philosophy.
This chapter is an exploratory study of business ethics as it relates to family firms; it primarily aims to explore virtue ethics as an alternative proposal for the ethical concerns that family firms face in their management, thus overcoming the limitations of relevant business ethics approaches and integrating them into an overarching paradigm. Ethics can be classified into three main streams: (1) deontology, (2) utilitarianism, and (3) virtue ethics. The former two approaches have been widely used in the realm of business and family firms for many years and they tend to instrumentalize ethics for business purposes. Yet, they are mostly powerless to explain and promote the ethical concerns surrounding the family firm’s culture. Virtue ethics regained philosophical interest in the second half of the twentieth century, shifting the focus of morality from “the right thing to do” to the “best way to live.” By bringing together two consolidated research fields, family firms and virtue ethics, this chapter contributes a rich perspective to current research in both fields and opens up new ways of answering many of the cultural questions that family firms bring to the table.
The chapter reflects on the strengths and limitations of David Carpenter’s proposal to support the work of research ethics committees through consideration of the virtues…
The chapter reflects on the strengths and limitations of David Carpenter’s proposal to support the work of research ethics committees through consideration of the virtues required by their members. Carpenter’s approach has many strengths, responsibilising researchers and ethics committees, and increasing the scope for robust and active theoretical engagement with ethical issues. I bring two alternative perspectives on research ethics to bear on this discussion. First, I discuss work in care ethics and relational ethics, approaches to ethics that have some similarities with virtue ethics but also distinct differences. Bruce Macfarlane’s text, on which Carpenter draws, notes care ethics briefly. I offer a more detailed consideration of what this perspective can offer, both for research ethics and for the virtuous research ethics committee. This helps to identify the relationships that are missing from a virtue ethics focus. Further, a context sensitive relational approach suggests ways in which we can strengthen Carpenter’s proposals to help research ethics committees select between competing principles or virtues. Second, my research ethics expertise is in undergraduate teaching for a multidisciplinary course, and an enquiry-based learning programme, which allows students in mixed discipline groups to plan, conduct, report and present their own original social research. The research skills training provided includes an interactive introduction to research ethics, what they are for and why they matter. Since we aim to offer practical guidance to research ethics committees when they consider what they should do and how this should be done, such a first principles approach may be useful.
The idea of ‘identity politics’ has become quite prominent in news commentary. It has been referred to in explaining the 2016 US Presidential election result, the 2016 Brexit vote and a variety of other events in contemporary social life. The idea emerged under that title in the late twentieth century, and refers to political conflicts where groups unite and act on the basis of some shared identity. While the term initially referred to action by groups seeking to remedy past oppression, ‘identity politics’ may now refer to a wider range of cases where there is contestation based on recognition of some shared identity. Individuals’ identity is central to resurgent modern virtue ethics, but it has been suggested that virtue ethics is less relevant to political conflict than utilitarian views or theories of justice. However, an important distinction can be made between narrative identity, on the one hand, and social identity that emerges from individuals’ self-perceived group membership, on the other hand. It is narrative identity that figures in major accounts of virtue ethics. In many situations, narrative identity is importantly affected by group identity, but it is still only narrative identity that has intrinsic ethical weight. This suggests that virtue ethics has relevance to identity politics just because it urges attention to individuals’ narrative identity rather than to group identity.
In the wake of the extraordinary financial scandals that both preceded and followed the September–October Financial Crises of 2008, discussions about the executive virtues of honesty and integrity are no longer academic or esoteric, but critically urgent and challenging. As representatives of the corporation, its products and services, corporate executives in general, and production, accounting, finance, and marketing executives in particular, must be the frontline public relations and goodwill ambassadors for their firms, products, and services. As academicians of business education, we must also analyze these corporate wrongdoings as objectively and ethically as possible. What is wrong must be declared and condemned as wrong, what is right must be affirmed and acknowledged as right. We owe it to our students, our profession, our stakeholders, and to the business world. Contemporary American philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre (1981) proposes the issue of morality in a threefold question: Who am I? Who ought I to become? How ought I to get there? The answer to every question refers to the virtues, especially to corporate executive virtues. This chapter explores corporate executive virtues, especially the classical cardinal virtues of prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice as defining and enhancing corporate executive life.
The aim of this paper is to explore how virtue ethics might inform our understanding about what constitutes “good” practice in forensic accounting. In particular, the…
The aim of this paper is to explore how virtue ethics might inform our understanding about what constitutes “good” practice in forensic accounting. In particular, the paper explores the concept of phronesis (or practical wisdom) as a basis for guiding the application of professional judgement in forensic accounting practice.
The paper draws on a review of relevant literature.
Prior literature has identified a number of technical and personal characteristics and attributes that are desirable in forensic accounting practitioners. Although being ethical is identified as an important characteristic, the question of what constitutes a “good” forensic accountant has not hitherto been investigated. Because of the profession’s multi-disciplinary and highly technical nature, forensic accountants are significantly at risk of conflating ethics with compliance with the law. The paper suggests that an understanding of virtue ethics and especially the virtue of “phronesis” or practical wisdom will help forensic accountants maintain public confidence and quality in their services and provide practical guidance on the exercise of professional judgement.
The paper suggests that the primacy currently given in forensic accounting literature and practice to a commercial logic, technical competencies and legal compliance risks damaging the professional standing of forensic accountants and, over time, reduces the ability of forensic accountants to exercise professional judgement in complex unstructured situations. Virtue ethics can act as a useful counter point to these threats.
A recognition of the need for the forensic accounting profession to collectively develop phronesis would re-establish the primacy of the profession’s public interest logic and maintain public trust and quality in forensic accounting services.
There appears to be no prior literature in forensic accounting which explores the application of virtue ethics in this field. In addition, although virtue ethics has been the subject of some prior papers in accounting per se, the importance of phronesis as a basis for understanding the nature and application of professional judgement has not been addressed.
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…
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.