Volume 7, Issue 1, 2016
Assisting Research Ethics Boards in Substantive Ethical Deliberation
The paper links an effective, dynamic method of ethical deliberation based on the thought of Bernard Lonergan with the activity of overseeing research involving human subjects. The ethical deliberation that occupies Research Ethics Boards (REBs) is multi-levelled and involves a wide diversity of disciplines. While the process can be reduced to static, “rubber-stamping” functioning, in reality, successful REB deliberation involves a process that is anything but static. Rather than narrowing in on one or two specific issues, the dynamic activity of ethical deliberation can set a process in motion that is able to address the wide horizon of concerns implicated in research involving human subjects. While REBs are mandated to maintain and assure ethical standards in research involving human subjects and to contribute to education in research ethics, the framework is a gauge against which they can measure the degree to which they are fulfilling this mandate.