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Research ethics in planning: a framework for discussion


This article discusses research into planning, and specifically how we might best frame the ethical issues which arise in, and through, such research. One of its central contentions is that ethical sensitivity is developed by researchers as part of a social practice, that is, through communal activity of a particular kind. Therefore, important as it is to ensure that researchers are aware of their personal ethical responsibilities, understanding what the moral point of view requires – that is, being sensitive to ethical issues,especially in new circumstances – is something which researchers acquire through involvement in appropriately conducted social practices. The article’s suggestion is that the notion of a social practice, as used by MacIntyre (1985) and others is helpful in framing thinking about research ethics in planning because it places the individual’s acquisition and development of a moral perception, and judgements,within a social context. The first section discusses this notion. The article also explores whether the notion of a social practice can usefully be employed to distinguish between the ethical issues which arise in scholarly research in planning as opposed to those which arise in policy-related research in planning.