Translation raises ethical questions, both as a practice and for translation theory. From the earliest days of Translation Studies as an academic discipline, scholars emphasised ethical aspects of linguistic equivalence or fidelity. Later, one of the pivotal ‘turns’ in the development of the discipline centred on calls for a ‘Return to Ethics’. Researchers’ focus simultaneously widened to embrace a broader range of issues and challenges, and narrowed in on specific cultures, language pairs or domains in relation to ethics. These theoretical developments were accompanied by increasing deontic attention to ethics in relation to the practice of translation, particularly with the growth of professional associations, and transformations in the technological and geopolitical context. In this, ethics remains unusual in Translation Studies and in philosophy, since research has embraced both theoretical and practical camps, with each one studied, questioned and arguably enriched by the other.

This chapter first traces significant developments in relation to ethics in Translation Studies chronologically, then considers some important ethical themes and questions for translation theory and practice in more detail. Suggestions for future research and further reading are provided in the conclusion.