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The job of ‘ethics committees’ should be ethically informed code consistency review
  1. Søren Holm1,2
  1. 1University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  2. 2Department of HELSAM, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Professor Soren Holm, University of Manchester, CSEP, School of Law, Manchester University, Manchester M13 9PL, UK; soren.holm{at}

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Moore and Donnelly argue in the paper ‘The job of “ethics committees”’ that research ethics committees should be renamed and that their job should be specified as “review of proposals for consistency with the duly established and applicable code” only.1 They raise a large number of issues, but in this comment I briefly want to suggest that two of their arguments are fundamentally flawed.

The first flawed argument is the argument related to the separation of powers. Moore and Donnelly proceed from the premise that it is pro tanto better to have an institutional arrangement that separates code-making powers and decisional powers, and then proceed to argue that this separation is not feasible for what they call ‘ethics consistency review’ because “no matter who established any prespecified review standards, the review decision maker must be empowered at review to revise those standards when this would make for an ethical improvement. This is because any understanding of ethics-consistency standards themselves and of their implications for any case is fallible and improvable in …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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