Accepted Paper:

Encounters with moral choice in social inquiry  


Christina Georgiadou (University of the Aegean)

Paper short abstract:

‘Knowledge for the pursuit of human good’ introduces ethics in the process of knowledge production and entails a series of moral choices from the part of the scientist, at every level of knowledge –creation. ‘Responsibility for the “other”’ might be the measure and the guiding principle for the researcher’s choices.

Paper long abstract:

If we intend to deal with the ethical dilemmas arising during research with informants, it might be useful to step backwards and rethink the epistemological question ‘knowledge for what purpose?’ ‘Knowledge for the pursuit of human good’, which appears as the obvious and immediate answer, introduces an ethical demand in the process of knowledge production, already from the beginning. Within social sciences, the researcher confronts the ‘other’ both as object of inquiry and as recipient of the produced knowledge. According to Bauman, facing the challenge of the ‘other’ means facing the responsibility of the choice of what is good for the ‘other’ (this is, for Bauman, ‘the “primal” condition of morality’). Thus, in the case of social inquiry, ‘human good’ needs to be determined by the scientist as an exercise of her own responsibility and then ‘the pursuit of human good’ needs to be implemented at a practical level, in both the research and the knowledge production processes. This paper is an account of the puzzlement I encountered regarding this kind of responsibility, during the research for my dissertation. Choices I had to make about how to interact with Afghan refugees and how to put in text the information gathered are discussed. I used Gilligan’s ‘ethics of care’ as ethical model for relating to my informants and then relied to Trouillot’s notion of ‘moral optimism’ and Knauft’s notion of ‘critical humanism’ as general guiding principles for the representational project.

Panel P04
The ethics of (relations of) knowledge-creation