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date: 26 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This essay illustrates some ethical issues presented in the literature: minimization of harm, respect for individual autonomy, and preservation of privacy. It then examines why research ethics is now treated by qualitative researchers as increasingly central to their work. Key factors here are the rise of ethical regulation and diversification of approaches to qualitative inquiry, with some recent approaches treating ethics as fundamental. The essay notes an important sense in which ethical commitments are central to research: inquiry must be underpinned by epistemic values and virtues 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, characterized as “the vice of overdoing morality.” The essay closes with an attempt to outline the proper role that research ethics ought to play in qualitative research.

Keywords: ethical principles, ethical regulation, qualitative research, moralism, epistemic values, ethical reflexivity

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