Ethics in Research on Learning: Dialectics of Praxis and Praxeology

SungWon Hwang, Wolff-Michael Roth

Abstract


Qualitative social research designed to develop ways of understanding and explaining lived experience of human beings is a reflexive human endeavor. It is reflexive in that as researchers attempt to better understand their participants, they also come to better understand themselves. Consequently, research ethics itself becomes an ethical project, for it pertains to participant and researcher at the same time: Both are subjects, knower and known. Particularly in case of research on learning, reflexivity arises from the fact that the research itself constitutes learning about learning. How is ethics in research on learning reflexive of, in its praxis and praxeology, ongoing events and changes of the human learning? In this study, from our experience of conducting a project designed to inquire into "learning in unfamiliar environments," we develop pertinent ethical issues through a dialectical process—not unlike that used by G.W.F. HEGEL in Phenomenology of Spirit—grounded in our lived experience and developed in three theoretical claims concerning a praxeology of ethics. First, ethics is an ongoing historical event; second, ethics is based on the communicative praxis of material bodies; and third, ethics involves the creation of new communicative configurations. We conclude that ethics is grounded in a fundamental answerability of human beings for their actions, which requires communicative action that itself is a dialectical process in opening up possibilities for acting in an answerable manner. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0501198

Keywords


ethics; research on learning; dialectics; praxis; praxeology; communication; human body; reflexivity

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