The Leadership Role of the Ethicist: Balancing between the Authoritative and the Passive

Aimee van Wynsberghe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


The pervasive presence of Information and Communication technologies has profound effects on cultural norms and values. This relationship is most commonly referred to in terms of values embedded in a technology (Nissenbaum, 2001). To mitigate potential threats to values, researchers from a variety of disciplines advocate in favor of incorporating ethics into research and design processes. As Boenink (2013) rightly points out, however, there is little work done that outlines exactly what it is that the ethicist does when engaged in ‘ethics in the lab'. This paper aims to fill the gap that Boenink has identified and to contribute to the ongoing discussions related to ethics in the lab. The following work will review what the ethicist does in terms of the tasks of the ethicist as articulated by van Wynsberghe and Robbins (2013) and will present two case studies as examples to illustrate the different role of the ethicist in each. The issue of central importance for this paper is how the ethicist's role differs from one case to the next and what guides this shift. For insight the paper looks to the work of Manders-Huits and Zimmer (2009) and their suggestion of the ‘leadership role'. Finally, it will argue that a virtue ethics approach should be taken in order to guide the ethicist in these divergent roles.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBusiness Law and Ethics
Subtitle of host publicationConcepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications
EditorsMehdi Khosrow-Pour
PublisherIGI Global
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9781466681958
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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