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An “ethical moment” in data sharing

Heeney, C

Science, Technology & Human Values  

DOI: 10.1177/0162243916648220

May 2016   (First published online May 2016)

http://sth.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/06/03/0162243916648220

This study draws on interviews with forty-nine members of a biomedical research community in the UK that is involved in negotiating data sharing and access. During an interview, an interviewee used the words “ethical moment” to describe a confrontation between collaborators in relation to data sharing. In this article, I use this as a lens for thinking about relations between “the conceptual and the empirical” in a way that allows both analyst and actor to challenge the status quo and consider other ethical possibilities.
Drawing on actor network theory (ANT), I approach “the empirical” using the concepts of controversy and ontological uncertainty as methodological tools to tackle the problem of ethics. I suggest that these concepts also provide a bridge for understanding the ontological structure of the virtual and the actual, as described in Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition.
While other science and technology studies scholars have sought to draw on Deleuze, this article addresses the integration of ethics and empirical research. It arises as a critical reaction to existing treatments of this problem as found in empirical ethics, especially in the sociology of bioethics, and indirectly in ANT texts.