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Incongruences of Ethical and Legal Norms in Academia: the Case on Revocation of Doctoral Degrees

Abstract

In the academic setting as in any organization legal norms prevail and are assumed to be congruent with ethical norms. Nevertheless, there are cases when the ratio of ethical and legal norms is inadequate and disproportional, especially those dealing with socially responsible decisions in academia. For this reason, the aim here is to analyse incongruences of ethical and legal norms related to the revocation of doctoral degrees in Lithuania, illustrated with examples of deviant behaviour by academic degree holders in terms of decisions of the courts and the ombudsman for academic ethics. Lithuania, being a Member State of the European Union, is currently facing the challenge of implementing newly-adopted laws related to the revocation of doctoral degrees. Accordingly, data were collected from available online official sources to gain more comprehensive evidence, and then analysed using the inductive approach of qualitative content analysis. Research findings show that there is still a thin line between ethical and legal norms, and this line fluctuates depending on nuanced considerations. This is to say that it is still problematical to dress ethical principles in legal clothing.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. The Law on Higher Education and Research defines higher education and research institutions whose main activity is carrying-out of studies and activities related to studies, and/or research and experimental (social, cultural) development. In this paper, we use a more generic term ‘university’.

  2. The Constitutional Court has authority to decide whether the laws and other acts of the Seimas are in conflict with the Constitution.

  3. With regard to these circumstances P.B. submitted a request concerning suspension of the civil case (No. 3 K-3-551-611/2015) to the Supreme Court and application to the Constitutional Court; however, this request was dismissed. The Supreme Court in its judgement noted that this case does not presume the setting where legal rules have a power of retroactivity and, therefore, there are no grounds to decide regarding its constitutionality and so satisfy the request of P.B. to apply to the Constitutional Court.

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Acknowledgments

For providing comments on the manuscript, we thank Frank den Hond, Ehrnrooth Professor of Management and Organization at Hanken Business School, Finland. His comments were very helpful for further improvement of the manuscript. Also, we thank reviewers for their valuable comments for improvement of this paper.

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Correspondence to Loreta Tauginienė.

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Tauginienė, L., Jurkevičius, V. Incongruences of Ethical and Legal Norms in Academia: the Case on Revocation of Doctoral Degrees. J Acad Ethics 15, 73–91 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-016-9270-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-016-9270-x

Keywords

  • Ethical norms
  • Legal norms
  • Academia
  • Revocation
  • Doctoral degree