Using cases with contrary facts to illustrate and facilitate ethical analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


There has been increasing interest in developing practical, non-theoretical tools for analyzing ethical problems in public health, biomedicine, and other scientific disciplines so that professionals can make and justify ethical decisions in their own research or practice. Tools for ethical decisionmaking, together with case studies on ethics, are often used in graduate education programs and in continuing professional education. Students can benefit from opportunities to further develop their analytical skills, to recognize ethical issues, and to develop their moral sensitivity. One practical approach for illustrating and facilitating ethical analysis uses cases with contrary facts and circumstances, an approach which complements rather than replaces theoretical approaches to moral reasoning. Cases with contrary facts and circumstances are presented in two or more alternative ways so that the facts, circumstances, or framing of one version runs counter to that of the other version (s). Cases with contrary facts, together with practical steps for identifying and analyzing ethical issues, are likely to be useful tools for illustrating and facilitating ethics analysis and stimulating the moral imagination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-110
Number of pages8
JournalScience and Engineering Ethics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethics
  • Instructional methods
  • Moral reasoning
  • Research ethics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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