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Role Ethics Research Group

Much of what people do, they do as occupants of some social or professional role. The Role Ethics Research Group exists to (1) investigate ethical problems arising from this simple but important and often overlooked fact, and (2) to apply the results of these investigations to individual roles, especially in the context of codes of ethics for professional roles.

  1. Real-world practical decision-making by human agents is shaped by the diverse roles they occupy. People commonly aim not just to do the right thing per se but to do the right thing as a parent, as a manager, as a friend, as a police officer, as a political leader, and so on. Different roles, by their very nature, give rise to different demands. For this reason, traditional ethical theories are not well-suited to offering guidance on conduct within a role, since they are typically rooted in capacities common to all of humanity (such as wellbeing, rationality, or compassion) rather than in the highly varied characteristics of roles. The Group is committed to filling gaps in ethical understanding that arise from this discrepancy.
  2. We collaborate with individuals and organizations to improve the content and embedding of professional codes of ethics (or codes of conduct, etc.). Many codes treat ethical considerations as an external constraint on effective role performance rather than as integral to performing the role well. Good code design flows more easily if one begins instead with a clear sense of what the role is for and how it is situated within an organization.

If you are interested in working with or joining the Group, please use the contact email to reach the leads; you are also welcome to contact members directly. Their research interests can be found via their webpages.

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