Open Access. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry. Published online 20 July 2021.
Abstract: Committees established for the ethical review of research involving animals have become a widespread legal standard around the world. Despite many differences in their composition, powers, and institutional settings, they share many common problems related to the well-established standards of procedural justice in administrative practice. The paper adapts the general theory of procedural justice to the specific context of ethical review committees. From this perspective, the main concerns over the procedural aspects of the ethical evaluation of research projects are identified and examined. They include in particular the standards of the committees’ composition, impartiality, fair hearing, appeal, transparency, and benevolence. Their proper reflection in the regulatory regimes of animal ethics committees is necessary to secure the standards of fairness of the ethical review itself. This, in turn, is a condition of the moral and social legitimacy of all administrative and quasi-administrative procedures, including the committees’ operations (irrespective of whether they are legally entrusted with the task of authorizing or only evaluating research projects).
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