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date: 27 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter outlines and illustrates some of the main ethical issues that have received attention in the literature—such as minimization of harm, respect for individual autonomy, and the preservation of privacy. It then examines why research ethics has come to be treated by qualitative researchers as increasingly central to their work. Key factors include the rise of ethical regulation and the diversification of approaches to qualitative inquiry, with a tendency for some recent approaches to treat ethics as fundamental to its very nature. In the final part of the chapter, it is noted that there is an important sense in which ethical commitments are indeed central to research: Inquiry must be underpinned by epistemic values and phrónēsis that facilitate the production of knowledge. However, it is argued that the increasingly common tendency to make central those principles concerned with how the people being studied should be treated constitutes a form of moralism, this being characterized as the vice of overdoing morality. The chapter closes with an attempt to outline the proper role that research ethics ought to play in qualitative research.

Keywords: ethical principles, situated judgments, ethical regulation, moralism, phrónēsis, ethics committees, qualitative research, knowledge production, objectivity

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