Monday, September 30, 2013

Gontcharov Reviews van den Hoonaard

Igor Gontcharov, a fellow participant in last year's Ethics Rupture conference, reviews Will van den Hoonaard's Seduction of Ethics and explains its relation to the conference's "New Brunswick Declaration."

[Igor Gontcharov, “Methodological Crisis in the Social Sciences: The New Brunswick Declaration as a New Paradigm in Research Ethics Governance?” Transnational Legal Theory 4, no. 1 (2013): 146–156. doi:10.5235/20414005.4.1.146.]

As I noted in my own review, The Seduction of Ethics is a pessimistic book, and Gontcharov agrees. "The question," he writes, "is no longer that of an alternative ethics review for the social sciences, but that of possible alternatives to ethics review." And he doesn't see that coming any time soon:

The problem no longer lies in the necessity of substantiating the claims of and problematising such phenomena as ethics creep or ethical imperialism. The regulatory capture has already occurred, and it is time to identify effective strategies to decolonise social scholarship. Since it has proven difficult to challenge the regulatory capture of the social sciences by offering historical and conceptual arguments, it is necessary to redraw the line of critique and let the data showing how ethics review affects the production of new knowledge speak for itself. Impact studies of ethics review are especially important, since there have been no unequivocal signs indicating that the calls for evidence-based regulation of ethics have been received by the regulators.

I'm not sure that's fair, at least for the United States. The 2011 ANRPM cites a fair number of empirical studies, and then uses them to justify a proposed reduction in multiple reviews and greater empowment of researchers to determine what projects need review. True, it has been close to two years since the comment period closed, and we haven't heard anything public from U.S. regulators. But at least we know they are listening.

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