The Role of Philosophers in RCR Training

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The expanding moral circle lends coherence to the usual hodge-podge of canonical RCR topics. As it is in a person’s own interest to report falsification, understand fabrication, avoid plagiarism, beware of intuition, and justify one’s decisions, it is useful to begin RCR discussions with the principle that we ought to do what is in our own long-term best interests. As it is in the interest of a person’s research group to articulate their reasons for their conclusions, to write cooperatively, review manuscripts professionally, and report statistics transparently, one can introduce the principle that we ought to keep our promises and contracts. As it is a basic matter of rights to respect human subjects, mentor inclusively, recognize intellectual property, and reveal both conflicts of interests and collaborations with private industry, an RCR instructor can introduce the idea that we ought to respect each individual’s moral rights. Finally, as many animals can feel pain, are subjects of their own lives, and have interests of their own, we must take seriously our role in their welfare as research subjects. In this last step, we expand the circle fully, considering animal experimentation, duties to future generations and the natural environment, and the larger social responsibilities of researchers while adopting a utilitarian principle: We ought to do what will maximize aggregate happiness.
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First archival date: 2017-03-07
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