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The topic of research ethics is the question of how to act - AESOP

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RESEARCH ETHICS IN PLANNING:
A FRAMEWORK FOR DISCUSSION
Francesco Lo Piccolo
Department "Città e Territorio"
Università degli Studi di Palermo, fpiccolo@unipa.it
Phone: 39 091 6079212 Fax: 39 091 6079244
Huw Thomas
School of City and Regional Planning
Cardiff University, ThomasH1@cf.ac.uk
Phone: 44 (0)29 20874022 Fax: 44 (0)29 20874845
Abstract
This paper is based on the contention that research into planning raises ethical issues which are distinctive enough to warrant more attention than the routine references to standard social science discussions which are the usual responses of research monographs and doctoral theses. Moreover, it argues that there are currently particular dangers which threaten the moral vision of planning researchers in many university contexts.
As well as defending these assertions, the paper outlines a framework within which ethical issues can be differentiated and approaches developed to address them. The framework is developed by building on the idea of academic research as, potentially, a distinctive practice, following the work of MacIntyre (1985) and others. One strength of such an approach is that it regards researchers as moral/political agents, relating to their own research in the light of their political commitments (Harvey, 1999) The key questions addressed in this portion of the paper are (1) whether the idea of a practice is persuasive, and helpful; (2) what are the conditions necessary to sustain a practice - ie how do we think of them, sociologically.
Arguing that the notion of a practice can be helpful, the paper then considers a series of relationships which define it, and within which the planning researcher operates: 1. with sponsors of research;
2. with the 'subject' of research;
3. with colleagues;
4. with the political context within which the research will be conducted and findings disseminated.
It is argued that in each of these relationships there are distinctive ethical challenges for planning research.
Keywords
Research, Ethics, Planning research, Practice
Introduction
This paper discusses research into planning. Scholarly research into planning is largely undertaken within universities (at least in the UK). The paper suggests (albeit tentatively) that there are reasons for distinguishing between such research and research undertaken as a direct part of the planning process - either within a planning agency or as consultancy. The purpose of the paper is to suggest a framework for considering ethical issues in planning research. Most researchers could list some of the ethical considerations that they feel should shape the conduct of research; some will have personal experience of ethical dilemmas related to research. This paper considers whether anything systematic can be said about how such ethical issues arise, hence how they might be understood, and addressed. To an extent, codes of professional ethics take on the task of structuring the ethical landscape of research, but they tend not to explain why the structure is as it is - much is left unsaid (1). More importantly, by their nature they focus on individual behaviour in a social vacuum. Their concern is advising and admonishing individual professionals. They tend therefore towards a view of ethics as an heroic endeavour in which the key feature of the ethical landscape is the individual resisting the temptations of the world. Such a picture has a special resonance in a conference held not too far from Geneva, the site of a famous Calvinist experiment, but it is one we wish to resist, or at least qualify. Without questioning for a moment the significance of individual moral responsibility we wish to emphasise the significance of social context, and more specifically the social nature of our lives, in structuring our moral perception - ie our knowledge and judgement of morality (see also Blum, 1996). This emphasis highlights important ethical dilemmas and threats which are overlooked or misunderstood if the individual is too exclusively the focus of attention. The paper's contention 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 moral perception and judgements within a social context. The first section discusses this notion. It argues that we might think of planning research as simultaneously parts of two practices, scholarly and professional. These may have different claims on research, and may give rise to different kinds of threats to clear perception. They are discussed in turn.
Scholarly research as a social practice
This section explores a way of thinking systematically about the question of how to act ethically when doing research, inspired by some ideas of Alasdair MacIntyre (but in no way based on an exegesis of his work). The approach adopted allows us to draw out the distinctiveness of ethical challenges in the specific social practice that is planning research. Central to MacIntyre's account of how virtues are acquired and developed is the idea of practice (which clearly owes much to the Wittgenstinian notion of a form of life). Practices are structured social activities of sufficient complexity to allow for standards of excellence and notions of good behaviour and good results to be developed which are partially constitutive of that practice and are intelligible only within the practice. Chess (and other games), and crafts are examples of practices. Education could be a practice, as could scholarship (understood as the pursuit of knowledge). The connection between practice in this kind of sense and the development of ethical sensibility and good judgement builds upon a distinctive notion of ethics. According to Wittgenstein (1974, cited in Tagliagambe, 2000), ethics is transcendental, as it is something that can not be described and explained, but it has to be "shown", as also Kierkegaard highlights. In fact, Kierkegaard (1979, cited in Tagliagambe 2000) explains that "communication in the field of ethics can exists only "in reality" (that is, in practice), so that the "communicator", or the "master", exists in what he (sic) teaches and in his real condition, and also in his real condition the master is precisely what he teaches".
Kierkegaard uses the following example, to specify this concept. If someone lectures on 'ataraxis' in the silence of his classroom, then it is not 'true', ethically. To be ethically true, the master has to be in a condition allowing him to show ataraxis, eg being in the midst of people shouting and insulting him and, at the same time, teaching ataraxis: ethically, the practical condition of reality belongs to teaching. In this sense, the notion of ethics is strictly linked to the idea of a real possibility and, particularly, of the possibility of acting (Tagliagambe, 2000). So ethics refers to an active capability that develops a willing to act, that is practice; ethics consequently requires education, exercise, intellectual formation, that is a set of skills which have to be "shown" in their direct application. In other words, ethics is not a "story-telling", a speculative activity, a narrative of thoughts and concepts, but an explication by doing, a practical application of competences that can be learned only if you are able (and available) to text them in practical experience. It is in pursuing excellence within social practices that this demonstration and learning can take place.
Social life, on this account, typically involves a web of activities which will include practices, often undertaken simultaneously - we might play chess as part of family activity, for example. In doing this, some hierarchy of practices must be invoked in order to resolve potential conflict: for example, acting well as a sibling may involve pursuing less elegant or effective chess strategies than would be consistent with the ethos of the game. Conversely, the same action can have a different significance, a different meaning, if undertaken in different practices: research undertaken as a scholarly undertaking is different to research undertaken as consultancy - in the sense that the notion of excellence and good practice in the one will be different to that in the other. Practices are dynamic, and can involve disagreement of detail and principle, and practices can be corrupted. Disagreements are within the particular tradition (as MacIntyre would put it) or way of seeing things/form of life (as Wittgenstein might) which constitutes the practice. As commentators on MacIntyre have pointed out, practices will be structured by power-relations (see eg Frazer and Lacey, 1994). Some power relations may be justifiable within the practice, but power relations may also corrupt the practice. For example, expert-apprentice relationships (including the supervisor-PhD student relationship) involve obedience from the apprentice in certain activities; an expert may try to demand obedience in other areas of life, too, and may even succeed, but that obedience would be contrary to the ethos of the practice and a perversion of it. The definition of what constitutes a perversion and what a development of a practice is of course contested and contestable. How might we understand what is going on when this contestation takes place? Our understanding will relate to our explanation of why practices are central to moral development. MacIntyre emphasises the way that virtues - especially key ones such as courage - are essential for the achievement of excellence within practices. On this account, perversions of a practice are changes which will redefine excellence in terms which allow it to be achieved without the exercise of virtue. If excellence can be achieved through bullying, or cheating, for example (as it might where instrumental rationality holds sway) then the practice has been corrupted. The corruption of a practice must be distinguished from dynamism - practices can and do change, and there can be disagreements about the desirability of the change. But such changes are debated and discussed in relation to the notions of excellence immanent in the practice, and it is this which distinguishes them from corruption of the practice. Coping with change in the practice is itself an important part of their work in moral schooling, for ethics, too, requires innovation and capabilities of looking for "what is possible" through immediate reality. The capability of "looking through" is capability of learning, and learning is on one hand absorption and reproduction of what is already known and, on the other hand, appreciating the possibility of "moving forward", going beyond what is already known (and its prejudices), that is re-problematize what is accepted as obvious. Another charged levelled by Frazer and Lacey is that MacIntyre does not take seriously the possibility of evil practices - torture, for example. As this is not an exegesis of MacIntyre, we need not be detained by worries about how he might reply but need consider only whether a reply is possible. It seems to us that one is: first, it is by no means as obvious as it might appear that evil activities will satisfy the requirements of a practice, that some notion of excellence which is independent of the gratification of the individual desires of particular exponents of an activity is involved. Secondly, we might argue that among the myriad activities which constitute social life, only some constitute practices, and for these, the relationship between excellence and virtue holds- ie that practices are precisely those activities which give rise to virtue. That practice and virtue are thereby defined in a circular fashion is not a problem for our purposes, we believe, though it might be for others. For reasons which will become apparent shortly, even in evil activities qualities which can help develop a virtuous character are exhibited. To this we should add, following a line of thought found in Iris Murdoch (1985) and Martha Nussbaum (1990), that achieving excellence in a practice involves two other morally significant orientations. First, it involves a submission of the self to the practice, an acknowledgment that the game/craft/practice is more important than any individual within it. This humility is consistent with wishing to see the practice develop, but inconsistent with being too concerned that it be oneself that is the instrument of that change. Humility of this kind squashes what Murdoch regards as a major source of moral misperception - the demands of the ego. Secondly, the kind of immersion in the practice and its associated humility that can bring about excellence involves, of necessity, the development of sympathetic imagination. It demands an understanding of the practice and those involved in it in terms which are enshrined by the history and tradition of the practice, not in terms which relate everything to the self and its desires. This is the basis of the kind of moral imagination that Nussbaum has discussed with such insight. Here, then, are further tests of whether disagreements about the development of a practice are consistent with its traditions. In brief, then, excellence within a social practice requires virtue, which means in turn that the discipline of the practice can help develop virtue. We might imagine that both of these characteristics can be present in certain kinds of evil; perhaps something close to them can, but we believe that as a matter of moral psychology in evil activity the gratification of desires - and evil desires by definition - will always play a part.
MacIntyre argues that an especially potent source of corruption of practices are the rationalities of institutions which are often (typically?) necessary infrastructure for them. This is because these institutions typically valorise and work within the bounds of instrumental rationality and so conflate excellence with effectiveness. So, for example, the business-administrative complex that is associated with football world-wide and has undoubtedly supported its development as a national and international practice with ever greater levels of sophistication also threatens to corrupt the practice - among other ways, directly through inducements to cheat and indirectly by putting administrative/bureaucratic politics ahead of the development of football as a practice. (An indication that corruption of a practice is under way is that the relations between those involved in the practice change: in particular, they come to view each other more in instrumental terms, and are more inclined to use institutional processes to mediate their relationships - with the kind of alienating and dis-empowering consequences remarked upon by Sennett (1999) in relation to social practices in urban neighbourhoods). It follows that it may be necessary, at times, to de-institutionalise practices (echoes of Illich). In relation to the pursuit of knowledge, and education more generally, we need to keep under review the degree to which universities are supportive or corrupting factors (they may be effective at the expense of excellence).
This sketch of an account of social practices suggests a systematic way we might understand threats to ethical practice in social research and tensions within it. Social research can be viewed as an area of scholarship, a social practice engaged in the pursuit of truth and the development of understanding about the world. But it is also potentially part of another social practice, that of governance - with which policy development (whether 'evidence-based' or not) is inextricably linked. These have their different norms and conventions, and (on the whole) take different institutional forms. A particular individual may engage in both at different times. On other occasions she or he may attempt to engage in both simultaneously, but in doing this there is always a real risk of moral tension because, as stated earlier, the same action may have different significance in different social practices: for example, publishing research results as soon as they are available may be regarded as constructive and collegial within scholarly practices but in some circumstances may be culpably naïve, even treacherous, within the practice of governance. We are prepared to entertain the idea that either course of action may involve and help develop virtues and moral imagination and feeling; it depends on the circumstances and the practice one takes oneself to be engaged in. What is a clear threat to personal integrity is to waver (either privately or publicly) in one's commitment to a practice. Those engaged in social research - including planning research- must have a clear idea in relation to any given research project how it is they wish to undertake it: as a scholarly or as a policy/governance related project. They do not do this because the latter social practice involves (of necessity) lower standards of probity than the former: it need not, and - in any event - a practice is dynamic and malleable and can be changed for the better by the action of its practitioners. Rather they do it because these are different practices, however they are reformed and changed, and as such will always throw up more or fewer tensions when undertaken simultaneously. In these circumstances planning researchers (and we include ourselves in this) like to imagine that they can often satisfy the demands of two practices simultaneously: but they cannot - they are either giving one priority at one time and then compensating by giving the other priority later; or they are changing (and potentially corrupting) one of the practices. In this section our focus is planning research as a scholarly practice. The earlier discussion of practices suggests the directions from which threats to the integrity of a practice may come with the resulting diminution of its potential for moral development and moral behaviour. There are two general threats of major significance:
1. the conflation of the norms and values of a practice with the instrumental norms and rationality associated with its institutional expression. Some examples of this in contemporary university life are so evident as to need little elaboration - the 'tick box' mentality related to performance indicators, for example. So excellence in scholarship may be conflated with rankings in research assessment exercises, with ever greater attention devoted to fine-tuning the latter and a loss of bearings occurring in relation to the former. In a world which requires organisation to make things happen, and where organisational procedures can be necessary bulwarks against unfairness and discrimination - this is a constant source of tension which can never be conclusively resolved, but can be addressed constructively by creating a supportive atmosphere for critique of institutional norms and values, and opportunities for mobilising against them - ie for making accusations that the threat of instrumentalism is becoming overwhelming. Creating these circumstances depends upon political struggle, but also requires courage on the part of senior figures within the scholarly practice; whether that courage and commitment exists within planning research is a matter for empirical investigation. 2. the encouragement of a lack of humility , an overweening concern for self, which can only obscure moral perception and diminish the capacity for moral imagination within any social practice. Hierarchy will always have the potential to inflate the ego, but this is increased enormously where a hierarchy legitimately established within and consistent with the norms of the practice affords access to 'goods' which have no particular worth within the practice - eg money, or status in the eyes of people not engaged in the practice. The university career structure, established and sustained for reasons one can readily sympathise with, is perhaps the greatest everyday threat of this kind - the self-important professor is as familiar in planning as in any other academic discipline. The thesis we are advancing is not that such figures do not produce good research - for they may have all sorts of abilities which allow them still to analyse and describe the world tolerably well. But, first, their own work will not be as good as it could be, and, second, their influence will tend to corrupt or corrode a social practice which will then undermine the capacity of others to do their best possible work. The relationship of moral perception to scholarly work is not easy to demonstrate, but some critics might argue, quite plausibly, that Jon Gower Davies's (1972) account of planning in Newcastle upon Tyne in the early 1970s might be an example of scholarship which is lessened by a moral flaw. In this case the problem appears to be a lack of respect for some of the subjects of the research. The author's attitude towards his subject was expressed in the title of his book, The Evangelistic Bureaucrat, and also in the savage indictment of some of the post-war dreams, and arrogance, of British planners which it contained. In reading the book, though, one gets no sense whatsoever of planners as living, flesh and blood, people responding to, and from time to time shaping, their political and professional circumstances. We would speculate that Davies's apparent deeply felt antipathy to planners made it impossible for him to view them (and hence understand them) as rounded social actors; in the book they appear as almost grotesque ciphers. (Such a critique would in no way imply that Davies was in some more general sense immoral or corrupt, simply that this work was flawed in a way which had an ethical dimension).
Moreover, the intrusion of self will gradually reduce the ability of participants to appreciate the traditions and norms of the practice as independent of, and not instruments for the gratification of, their own projects. This phenomenon can take some unexpected forms: O'Neill (1993:159-162) for example, refers to Augustine's concern about the 'lust of the eyes', the insistence of the scholar that just because something can be seen or done then it should be investigated/undertaken. This stance, O'Neill claims, is a kind of wilfulness born of a greater concern for self than for the world about which truth and knowledge are sought:
Knowledge may not issue in a disinterested openness to the object, but rather the an object is sought to satisfy the desire to know
(O'Neill, 1993: 162)
This should help researchers address the issue which sometimes arises in social research where researchers feel they face difficult ethical choices because of the importance of securing access to the objects to be researched, which might be local authorities or developers who are morally reprehensible. The researchers must ask themselves why it is that they wish to secure such access, and be sure that it is not a case of 'lust of the eyes'.
The search for money is another pressure which can erode scholarly practice. Planning is by no means the only subject area where concerns can arise that research agendas are too heavily influenced by a narrow set of powerful interest. In UK planning, the situation in respect of the breadth of funding is not ideal. At least, there appears to be too little variety of funding available to avoid what Lovering (1999) has characterised as policy-led evidence - ie theoretical frameworks, and interpretations of data, being produced as post-hoc rationalisations of policy directions which sponsors of research have already committed themselves to. By the standards of scholarship this is poor research, and those who engage in it habitually will find their moral judgements affected. However, it is our contention that while funding by research 'users' (ie planning agencies) is almost always likely to compromise the quality of scholarly practice it is possible to engage in such work as part of a different social practice with its own (albeit overlapping) marks of excellence, and policy-led theory may not always be reprehensible. Ethics and research within the planning process
What then of that research which is undertaken within the planning process itself - commissioned and pursued specifically to improve policy? It is clear that the moral landscape within which planning research is undertaken is not always an easy one to read or traverse. Let's consider just a few aspects of this. Planning research, like any other kind of social science research, is an intervention in people's lives. This intervention in itself changes people's lives, and that is not simply an intellectual concern, but also has profound ethical implications, especially when the consequences impact upon people who are socially disadvantaged and politically powerless. Even when satisfied that they can, or have, exercise(d) proper sensitivity in conducting their research, researchers in public policy disciplines like planning must face the possibility that their findings will be used by others in ways of which they disapprove. Of course, this is a possibility for any kind of scholarship. But whereas it is unreasonable to expect a researcher to try to predict social and political controversies in the distant future to which his work may be relevant, the usefulness of public policy related research to contemporary discussions and struggles is often pretty clear. This shouldn't mean that planning research isn't done at all. But it does present researchers with awkward judgements to make about how to calculate their responsibility for creating knowledge which may possibly be used by others for ends for which they disapprove. We would suggest that there are reasons for regarding this as a different kind of activity, a different practice, and that it is both implausible and unfair to argue that it must be undertaken in the same spirit as scholarly research. Such research is different inasmuch as the scope, analysis and dissemination of the research is heavily influenced by the policy process (as opposed to being influenced by a scholarly discipline and the dynamic of its theoretical debates). This does not mean that truth and rigour are any less important, but it does mean that what constitutes an appropriate object of research, and what is done with the findings of research and how they are presented is influenced by a different set of factors than in scholarly research. What constitutes excellence involves different kinds of skills - including different kinds of communicative skills - from scholarly research, albeit that many are also shared. We are tentative in reaching this conclusion, but hope that it can be defended because it seems implausible, and unnecessarily hopeless, to suggest that anything which purports to be research must be carried out as a scholarly activity, even within the planning policy process. Those who hold this view condemn armies of researchers, including many in universities, to a moral twilight. Perhaps it must ultimately be so, but we intend to explore alternatives which are more optimistic. For the remainder of this section we proceed as if policy-related research in planning is a distinctive social practice. Kaufman (1993, p. 113) points out that "much of the behaviour of planners reflects both ethical choices and carries with it ethical consequences. Ethical judgements are involved, sometimes explicitly but more often implicitly, in many planning activities including collecting and analyzing data, forecasting, cost-benefit analysis...". So, if we consider and recognize the pervasive ethical dimensions involved in planning work ethics is a relevant, even if not particularly discussed, component of planning research. This assumption does not derive only from the notion of the "political and social commitment" of planners (and planning researchers), but also from the interpretation of ethics proposed by Wittgenstein (1974).
In the tradition of Policy Analysis, the planner is seen as a value-free means-technician who deals with "factual data but avoids the value questions of defining these objectives" (Klosterman, 1978). Under the influence of utilitarianism, this approach implies that the choice of good or ends come from a political process beyond the scope of the planner-as-scientist, which is responsible just of the choice of means: only the latter choice has to be considered a technical/social scientific matter (Harper and Stein, 1992; Scandurra, 2000). The ethical implication of this view is that only the ends are moral and the means strictly practical and technical, so dividing ethics and planning. Harper and Stein (1992) question this, and summarize the reasons for a "reunion" of planning theory and ethical theory, drawing on Klosterman (1978), Alexander (1986) and Wachs (1982):
1. Planning can not be considered as a value-free activity, as its problems and dilemmas can not be solved just on a technical level.
2. The whole planning process is inherently political.
3. The (implicit) utilitarian ethical theory had, as consequences, injustices and inadequacies.
If this is accepted, some questions arise. How have we to consider planning researchers - understood as immersed in the policy process - as moral/political agents, in the light of their political commitments? Do not these moral and political commitments interfere with objectivity and the nature itself of a scientific method? In an old text (which is an essay/guide on social research methods) of a Marxist sociologist, we found, despite some ideological constraints and slogans, some interesting considerations that can be useful for our discourse. According to Gilli (1971), we have to consider some relevant points:
1. There are two main functions of science: innovation and control, often in contradiction to each other, and with the predominance or one or the other, according to the historical moment and political context, eg the rising of the capitalistic middle class in the XIX century gave more chances to innovation than to control, for well known reasons.
2. In some historical moment or political context, the function of control can be absolutely predominant and overwhelming, erasing and nullifying the function of innovation, and so becoming an obstacle to discovery (if so, the researcher assumes the role of and can be exploited as "security-guard").
3. Under these conditions, neutrality is neither a pre-requisite nor a useful skill of scientific research. Neutrality is not a synonym for objectivity: neutrality and objectivity are quite different terms, revealing different approaches, sometimes (or quite often) in strong contrast/contradiction each other.
To be neutral can force the researcher to be non-objective, that is - scientifically in-correct; and this happens as most of "neutral positions" are, in reality, on the side of the most powerful interests and behaviours: planning is a classic example of it. The scientific in-correctness is not in being "on the side of power" (that is non-neutrality) but in loosing the function of innovation by exercising the function of control (that is non-objectivity): the example of environmental issues is quite illuminating on this matter.
Important as these kinds of examples are, we must not overlook the more mundane circumstances in which people typically find themselves as researchers within the planning process - where they are doing a job for an internal or external 'client' with whom they may have ethical/political disagreements, but not ones which are of fundamental importance. In these circumstances, are there standards of excellence in conducting research which can be aspired to? It seems to us there are - these standards will incorporate the kinds of concerns about probity, respect for the subjects of research and so on that are the staple of standard accounts of ethics in social research (McCauley, 2003), but also include the capacity to empathise with and work oneself into the client's way of seeing the world and try to research/understand it from that perspective and present/disseminate results accordingly. Recognising that research of this kind is inherently political (Harvey, 1999) the researcher, in aspiring to excellence, should also strive for some of the qualities of excellence in the practice of politics - which includes appropriate discretion (but not deceit), ability to construct persuasive arguments, and loyalty. This account identifies some planning ethical issues which relate to planning research within the policy process:
* How do we distinguish between 'fundamental' and less important kinds of moral disagreements * If we regard planning research within policy processes as a particular kind of practice how does it rank in the hierarchy of practice - in particular in relation to scholarship (important when the same institutions and individuals may be undertaking it)
* How can the researcher's moral perception be secured against the debilitating effects of power and money, which are so significant in politics (O'Neill,1993).
It raises the issue of how to design institutions which allow for excellence in policy-relevant research: is it necessary, for example, to insulate career advancement in research from the influence of politicians (on the lines of the civil service in many countries)? Conclusion
Our purpose in this paper has been to explore a way of thinking about planning research which considers the social context of moral perception and behaviour. By doing this we hope to shift the emphasis of discussion from individual probity to the circumstances which help researchers develop and use sound ethical judgement. This approach has implications for the kinds of institutions within which planning research can be undertaken, and the likely source of the most potent threats to both excellence in research and ethical behaviour. Our own position is that the entrepreneurial turn in governance and public management puts pressure on planning research in all contexts but poses particularly acute threats to scholarly research, where de-institutionalisation may indeed be desirable.
Endnotes. (1) Codes of Professional Ethics
Much of the work on planning ethics has focussed on professional codes and on the behaviour of individual planners (Wachs, 1985). In the 1970s some commentators did critically review professional codes of ethics for guidance (Marcuse, 1976; Howe and Kaufman, 1979) in an attempt to broaden them to address new questions and goals (eg. Can public actions be objectively evaluated? Whose interests should be served by public planning? How should the powerless groups in society be represented?). [For a review of the increased status of ethics in planning codes see Kaufman (1993)].
A review of professional planning codes from the USA, Canada and the UK shows that:
1. In some codes (RTPI, but also the ECTP New Chart of Athens) there is no direct reference to ethics, but just few references to vague and general terms as "honesty" and "integrity", or "bona fide".
2. In some others (APA, AICP) the emphasis is on the personal ethics of individual planners.
3. There is no direct reference to planning research, as these codes regulate planning as profession, that appears to be considered -questionably- a distinctive activity from research. What can we derive from those codes and apply to planning research? There are just few, although substantial, elements: 1. The ethical dilemma of being tempted to manipulate information for "good ends", so misrepresenting facts or distorting information.
2. Difficulties in exercising "fair", "honest" and, above all, "independent" judgements, simply relying on individual and personal responsibility.
3. The controversial ethical dilemma of the use/disclosement of confidential information, if applied to research (see AICP codes of ethics B9).
4. The conflict between loyalty to one's sponsor and loyalty to the public (science?) interest.
5. The controversial definition on "ensuring that planner's private, personal, political and financial interests do not conflict with their professional duties". How can this code apply to planning research? How do we define the personal and political interests of a researcher?
(2) Definition of a practice (after MacIntyre, as quoted in Frazer and Lacey,1994: 269): It is: Any coherent and complex form of socially established cooperative human activity through which goods internal to that form of activity are realised in the course of trying to achieve those standards of excellence which are appropriate to, and partially definitive of, that form of activity...
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