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Evidence and morality in harm-reduction debates: can we use value-neutral arguments to achieve value-driven goals?

Evidence and morality in harm-reduction debates: can we use value-neutral arguments to achieve value-driven goals?

Zampini, Giulia Federica ORCID: 0000-0002-9456-4792 (2018) Evidence and morality in harm-reduction debates: can we use value-neutral arguments to achieve value-driven goals? Palgrave Communications, 4:62. ISSN 2055-1045 (Online) (doi:https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-018-0119-3)

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Abstract

It is common to argue that politicians make selective use of evidence to tacitly reinforce their moral positions, but all stakeholders combine facts and values to produce and use research for policy. The drug policy debate has largely been framed in terms of an opposition between evidence and politics. Focusing on harm reduction provides useful ground to discuss a further opposition proposed by evidence advocates, that between evidence and morality. Can evidence sway individuals from their existing moral positions, so as to “neutralise” morality? And if not, then should evidence advocates change the way in which they frame their arguments? To address these questions, analysis of N=27 interviews with stakeholders involved in drug policy and harm reduction research, advocacy, lobbying, implementation and decision-making in England, UK and New South Wales, Australia, was conducted. Participants’ accounts suggest that although evidence can help focus discussions away from values and principles, exposure to evidence does not necessarily change deeply held views. Whether stakeholders decide to go with the evidence or not seems contingent on whether they embrace a view of evidence as secular faith; a view that is shaped by experience, politics, training, and role. And yet, morality, values, and emotions underpin all stakeholders’ views, motivating their commitment to drug policy and harm reduction. Evidence advocates might thus benefit from morally and emotionally engaging audiences. This paper aims to develop better tools for analysing the role of morality in decision-making, starting with moral foundations theory. Using tools from disciplines such as moral psychology is relevant to the study of the politics of evidence-based policymaking.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Uncontrolled Keywords: evidence; morality; harm reduction; moral foundations; empathy
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Law & Criminology (LAC)
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2020 13:43
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: GREAT b
Selected for GREAT 2019: GREAT 2
Selected for REF2021: REF 2
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/20073

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