The term “ethics” covers a multitude of virtues and possibly some sins where ethical perspectives differ. Given the diversity of ethical philosophies there is a question about what common ground can, or should, inform health research ethics. At a minimum it must be consistent with the law. Beyond that, ethics embraces a variety of possible approaches. This raises the question—what criteria are applied in determining the appropriate approach and what standards by way of quality control are applied to its decisional application by ethics committees or other authorities exercising responsibility in this difficult area. The particular issue of ethical perspectives on the use of “big data” in medical research also raises complex issues for consideration.