851-0180-00L  Research Ethics

SemesterHerbstsemester 2019
DozierendeG. Achermann
Periodizitätjährlich wiederkehrende Veranstaltung
KommentarNumber of participants limited to 40

Particularly suitable for students of D-BIOL, D-CHAB, D-HEST

KurzbeschreibungThis course enables students to:
• Improve their moral reasoning skills (e.g. identify, construct and evaluate moral arguments);
• Identify and describe leading normative approaches and concepts for research involving animals and human subjects;
• Analyse the theoretical foundations and disputes on moral issues related to research involving animals and human subjects.
LernzielParticipants of the course Research Ethics will
• Develop an understanding of the role of certain moral concepts, principles and normative theories related to scientific research;
• Improve their moral reasoning skills (such as identifying and evaluating reasons, conclusions, assumptions, analogies, concepts and principles), and their ability to use these skills in assessing other people’s arguments, making decisions and constructing their own reasoning to the kinds of ethical problems a scientist is likely to encounter;
• Deepen their understanding of the debates on certain central moral issues in research, e.g. the use of animals in biomedical research.
InhaltI. Introduction to Moral Reasoning
1. Ethics - the basics
- What is ethics? What ethics is not...
- Identification of moral issues (awareness): what constitutes an ethical question? Distinguishing ethical questions from other kinds of questions;
- Values (personal, cultural & ethical) & principles for ethical conduct in research;
- Descriptive and prescriptive ethics
- Ethical universalism, ethical relativism and cultural relativism
- What is research ethics and why is it important?

2. Normative Ethics
- Overview on important theories for research ethics: virtue theories, duty-based theories (rights theory, categorical imperative, prima facie duties), consequentialist theories, other theories;
- The plurality of ethical theories, moral pluralism and its consequences;

3. Arguments
- Why arguments? What is a good argument? The structure of (moral) arguments;
- Deductive and inductive arguments; Validity and soundness; strength and cogency;
- Assessing moral arguments

II. Research involving animals
1. The moral status of animals: moral considerability (morally relevant features), moral significance;
2. Representative views (indirect theories, direct but unequal theories, and moral equality theories) on the moral status of animals and resulting standpoints on the use of animals in biomedical research
- The 3 R's (replacement, reduction, refinement);
- Public policy in the context of moral disagreement
- The concept of dignity and the dignity of living beings in the Swiss constitution;
- The weighing/evaluation of interests: the procedure and criticism, the value of basic research and related problems in the weighing of interests;

III. Research involving human subjects
- History of research involving human subjects
- Basic ethical principles – the Belmont report
- Selection of study participants. The concept of vulnerability
- Assessment of risks and benefits of a research project
- Research ethics committees
- Information and consent; confidentiality and anonymity;
- Research projects involving biological material and health related data
SkriptCourse material (handouts, case studies, exercises, surveys and papers) will be available during the lectures and on the course homepage.
Voraussetzungen / BesonderesWhat are the requirements?
First and foremost your strong willingness to seriously achieve the main learning outcomes as indicated in the Course Catalogue (specific learning outcomes for each module will be provided at the beginning of the course). For successfully completing the course Research Ethics, the following commitment is absolutely necessary (but not sufficient) (observed success factors for many years!):
1. Your regular presence is absolutely required (so please no double, parallel enrollment for courses taking place at the identical time!) connected with your active participation during class, e.g. taking notes, contributing to discussions (in group as well as in plenary class), solving exercises.
2. Having the willingness and availability of the necessary time for regularly preparing the class (at least 1 hour per week, probably even more…).