Ethical but Upsetting Geoscience Research: A Case Study

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Thomas Pölzler
Florian Ortner


Geoscience research may upset people even though it is ethically acceptable. In this paper we attempt to explore three questions about such research. It will turn out that (1) under most circumstances ethical but upsetting geoscience research is morally permissible, (2) revising this research in response to upset-induced external interference is morally impermissible in the absence of strong countervailing pragmatic reasons and attempts to reduce upset, and (3) potentially upsetting geoscience research ought to be communicated truthfully and tailored to each individual situation. These general propositions are applied to a case of ethical but upsetting research that we ourselves are currently involved.

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Pölzler T, Ortner F. Ethical but Upsetting Geoscience Research: A Case Study. Ann. Geophys. [Internet]. 2017Nov.14 [cited 2024Feb.22];60. Available from:
SPECIAL ISSUE: Geoethics at the heart of all geoscience