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2015, Cilt 5, Sayı 2, Sayfa(lar) 109-124
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DOI: 10.5961/jhes.2015.114
Ethical Justification of Moral Norms in Scientific Research: Scientists' External Responsibilities
Mehmet AKÖZER1, Emel AKÖZER2
1Social Sector Consultant, Ankara, Turkey
2Middle East Technical University, Faculty of Architecture, Ankara, Turkey
Keywords: Ethics of scientific research, Ethical justification, Human rights, Humboldtian ethics, Naturalistic ethics

Scientists' moral responsibilities have become a focus for the scientific community over the postwar decades. International and regional networks of leading academic bodies have responded to a widely perceived increase in scientific fraud and the ensued loss of public trust in science during the 1980s, and initiated a discussion with a view to codifying good practice in research. While scientists' “external” responsibilities towards society and the humankind have been variously addressed, codes drafted since then mainly dwell on problems of misconduct concerning scientists' “internal” responsibilities towards science and to the scientific community. They also reflect an ethical pluralism, which declines justifying moral standards in research with reference to universal ethical principles. However, the need for such justification has been first recognized decades ago, during the Doctor's Trial in Nuremberg, where the shortcomings of the established ethos of science and the inadequacy of the Hippocratic ethics in safeguarding human rights in research had become flagrant, with the resultant Nuremberg Code of 1947 introducing a human rights perspective into Hippocratic ethics. This paper argues for the necessity of an integral ethical justification of scientists' both external and inner responsibilities, as put down or assumed by internationally acclaimed codes of conduct. Such necessity is validated by the evidence that a historical current to monopolize ethical thinking in the name of science and nullify philosophical ethics lies at the root of an anti–morality that relativized human worth and virtually legitimized human rights violations in scientific practice. Kantian ethics based on humans' absolute inner worth, and Popperian epistemology rooted in respect for truth and for humans as rational beings, pledge an ethical justification of moral norms in science so as to reinforce the latter against intrusions of anti–morality. The paper concludes with an attempt to such a justification for scientists' external responsibilities.

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