Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 105–120 | Cite as

The Ethics of Doing Ethics

  • Sven Ove HanssonEmail author
Original Paper


Ethicists have investigated ethical problems in other disciplines, but there has not been much discussion of the ethics of their own activities. Research in ethics has many ethical problems in common with other areas of research, and it also has problems of its own. The researcher’s integrity is more precarious than in most other disciplines, and therefore even stronger procedural checks are needed to protect it. The promotion of some standpoints in ethical issues may be socially harmful, and even our decisions as to which issues we label as “ethical” may have unintended and potentially harmful social consequences. It can be argued that ethicists have an obligation to make positive contributions to society, but the practical implications of such an obligation are not easily identified. This article provides an overview of ethical issues that arise in research into ethics and in the application of such research. It ends with a list of ten practical proposals for how these issues should be dealt with.


Ethics in practice Code of ethics Ethics of ethics Applied ethics Publication ethics Plagiarism Integrity of ethics Consultancy Research funding 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of PhilosophyRoyal Institute of Technology (KTH)StockholmSweden

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