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Rosnow, R. L., & Rosenthal, R. (2011). Ethical Principles in Data Analysis: An Overview. In A. T. Panter & S. K. Sterba (Eds.), Handbook of Ethics in Quantitative Methodology (pp. 37–58). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203840023.ch3


This chapter is intended to serve as a conceptual and historical backdrop to the discussions of particular ethical issues and quantitative methods in the chapters that follow in this Handbook. Before we focus more specifically on modern-day events that fired up concerns about ethical issues, it may be illuminating to give a sense of how the consequences of those events, as indeed even the need for this Handbook, can be understood as a piece in a larger philosophical mosaic. In the limited space available, it is hard to know where to begin so as not to oversimplify the big picture too much because it extends well beyond the quantitative footing of modern science. If we substitute “mathematical” for statistical or quantitative, and if we equate the development of modern science with the rise of experimentalism (i.e., per demonstrationem), then we might start with Roger Bacon, the great English medieval academic and early proponent of experimental science. In his Opus Majus, written about 1267, Bacon developed the argument that: If … we are to arrive at certainty without doubt and at truth without error, we must set foundations of knowledge on mathematics insofar as disposed through it we can attain to certainty in the other sciences, and to truth through the exclusion of error” (quoted work reprinted in Sambursky, 1974, p. 154).