ETHICS INTERLUDE 3 : JUSTICE
A : CRITICAL UNDERSTANDING
The principle of justice is a criterion which is built on the grounds of egalitarianism. Justice is commonly referred to show the condition of being morally correct or fair. Most people consider Justice as a system of rules and regulations by which people are judged as well as punished for wrongdoing. (Cambridge Dictionary). Thus, in commonplace, Justice is something that is seen from the point of view of redress. This is a misunderstanding of the principle of justice which needs to be addressed.
Anyone who has read “The Belmont Report” would have a much more profound understanding of the principle of justice. This principle is based on the foundations of equality. As per the report, the benefits as well as the burdens should be distributed equally amongst the participant as well as the researcher. Hence, Justice isn’t just counteracting wrong, but is also making sure that a person is getting any benefits that he/she is entitled to and also isn’t inflicted with unnecessary burdens.
DIFFICULTIES FACED IN APPLYING THE PRINCIPLE
As most of the principles in ethics are very intricate, applying such principles in the workplace is fairly difficult. Even the principle of justice can have a lot of different implications and thus different scientific researchers might have varied understandings of this principle(some of which are flawed). Let’s consider the modern workplace to see situations where the principle might not be followed. A prime example where the principle is compromised is when only certain individuals at higher ranks, like the CEO, in a company get the credit for a project/assignment even though other people were involved in the process and contributed to the project in an important aspect. Certain questions arise that need to be considered by a researcher to make sure that the principle isn’t being compromised. A couple of examples of such questions could be:
- Is everyone participating in the project getting the amount of acknowledgement and respect that they deserve?
- Is the environment where the research is being conducted hindering a participant’s progress in any way? Are the participants being denied of benefits that are legitimately theirs due to such circumstances?
Such questions need to be addressed by the researcher to make sure that the principle isn’t been broken intentionally or unintentionally. Their might not be a sure-shot correct answer to such questions but deliberating these questions and making sure that the utmost justice is being provided is important.
B : APPLICATION
A reference research example where the principle of justice can be applied would be the Usability Test sprint which was done in week three of the class.“During this sprint, the students were supposed to test at least three features of a microwave. The objective of the sprint was to test the students on their designing as well as interviewing abilities. The students had to make proper presentation showing the feedback and the results they got by conducting the Usability Test.” (Ethics Interlude 1 : Beneficence)
The principle of justice in the chosen situation can be seen while performing the usability tests. Me and my team had to make sure that the test was designed in such a way that every participant was treated with equality based on their race, background as well as wisdom. Furthermore, me and my team had to make sure that the participant’s effort as well as work was credited, appreciated, and respected.
We also had to consider the benefits as well as the burden that we as well as the users of the test would face. The main benefits accrued by my team would be the feedback as well as the improvements that the participants might suggest for the microwave. This was a benefit as it would help me and my team improve the microwave and make our product more usable and human-centered. One of the burden that some of my team members might have faced could have been unequal work assignment or lesser credit than they would deserve for the amount and quality of the work that they did. Such burdens could be distributed across the various groups, such as the participants and research conductors that are participating in the research. Some people in these groups might make a greater contribution but still get the same credit as people who put minimal work and effort. This situation can be accounted for both, undue burden as well as denied benefits.
A reference design example where the principle of respect for persons can be applied would be the Interaction Design sprint which was done in week two of the class. For this project, the students had to design a mobile app prototype which would help the scientists in collecting more data about the “urban animal population”. As the app could be used by anyone around the globe, it was of utmost importance to follow the principle of justice while designing this app. If we examine this design example by considering the principle of justice, the design had to be based on the principles of equality and it had to be made sure that the needs of people from various different backgrounds was gratified. For example, the smartphone application that I was built was named ‘Catinder’. Catinder was an interactive app that could be user to adopt cats in animal shelters as well as find such shelters for stray cats.
As per the Belmont Report, if the benefits and burdens are equally weighed, then the principle of justice is followed. The main benefit for this application would be that the users looking to adopt cats would be allowed to access first-hand data that is provided by the animal shelters near them. This would help them in the adoption process and help them choose the best and the most suitable cat for their needs. A burden could be that some users might live in an area which is very far from animal shelters and thus would not be able to use the app to the fullest. Another burden could be that the adoption of cats might be illegal in certain localities around the globe and users living in such localities would have no use of such an app. However, the smartphone app would definitely be more beneficial than harmful. Thus, the principle of justice would be followed.
The principle of Justice is a very intellectual concept and not every individual needs to go in the depth of the meaning of the term justice or even acknowledge this principle in some areas. It is just an ethical principle that helps in protecting the notions of equality and feelings of anyone and everyone associated with a scientific research.
THE BELMONT REPORT — “http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/regulations-and-policy/belmont-report/”.
Sharma, Aditya; “ETHICS INTERLUDE 1 : BENEFICENCE” .