The scientific method defined and described


The ethics of scientific research need strengthening



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The ethics of scientific research need strengthening


SCIENTISTS NEED HIGHER ETHICAL STANDARDS

Science has immediate effects on humanity

Rene Jules Dubos (bacteriologist, Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research), “Utopias and Human Goals” in The Fate of Man, ed. by Crane Brinton, 1961, p. 475

“In the past the social effects of science were slow in manifesting themselves. Today they are immediate and reach every level of the life of every man, for good and for evil.”
Knowledge cannot be separated from the applications of knowledge

Rene Jules Dubos (bacteriologist, Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research), “Utopias and Human Goals” in The Fate of Man, ed. by Crane Brinton, 1961, p. 474

“Knowledge can grow without ethical values, but the modern scientist cannot help becoming involved in ethics, since science can no longer be dissociated from the applications of science.”
Science ignores human welfare

Reuben Abel (prof. of philosophy, New School for Social Research, New York City), Man Is The Measure, 1976, p. 82

“Human welfare is not as such an objective of science; for this reason, science needs to be supplemented by philosophy.”
Scientists are blind to non-science concerns

Charles R. DeCarlo (education director, IBM), “Perspectives on Technology” in Technology and Social Change, ed. by Eli Ginzberg, 1964, p. 40

“When a scientist or technologist is intensely interested in solving a problem, he becomes blind to other factors, regardless of how broad his education.”
Science is treating people as means, rather than ends in themselves

June Goodfield (fellow, British Royal Society of Medicine), Playing God: Genetic Engineering and the Manipulation of Life, 1977, p. 73

“To some outsiders, and to some scientists too, science itself, instead of simply giving us new basic data or a new understanding, seems to be transforming gradually into a technology that threatens our traditional values. Worse: people have been incorporated into that technology perceived not as people any more but as a means to someone else’s ends, and science has never done this before.”
Science is fundamentally wrong on the key value of life

Daniel C. Dennett (Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University), “How to Protect Human Dignity from Science,” in Human Dignity and Bioethics: Essays Commissioned by the President’s Council on Bioethics, 2008, p. 40

“Human life, tradition says, is infinitely valuable, and even sacred: not to be tampered with, not to be subjected to ‘unnatural’ procedures, and of course not to be terminated deliberately, except (perhaps) in special cases such as capital punishment or in the waging of a just war: ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ Human life, science says, is a complex phenomenon admitting of countless degrees and variations, not markedly different from animal life or plant life or bacterial life in most regards, and amenable to countless varieties of extensions, redirections, divisions, and terminations. The questions of when (human) life begins and ends, and of which possible variants ‘count’ as (sacred) human lives in the first place are, according to science, more like the question of the area of a mountain than of its altitude above sea level: it all depends on what can only be conventional definitions of the boundary conditions. Science promises-or threatens-to replace the traditional absolutes about the conditions of human life with a host of relativistic complications and the denial of any sharp boundaries on which to hang tradition.”
Pursuit of knowledge must be tied to philosophical goals

Rene Jules Dubos (bacteriologist, Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research), “Utopias and Human Goals” in The Fate of Man, ed. by Crane Brinton, 1961, p. 475

“To become worthy of his power, the scientist will need to develop enough wisdom and human understanding to recognize that the acquisition of knowledge is intricately interwoven with the pursuit of goals.”
Commitment to scientific ethics is shallow

David Benatar (professor of philosophy and head of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa.), “Unscientific ethics: science and selective ethics,” The Hastings Center Report, January-February 2007, p. 30-31

“Many scientists speak of the importance of conducting science in an ethical way and for ethical purposes. They commonly proclaim that science should not advance unfettered by moral constraints and without ethical evaluation. Accordingly, scientific journals and books are increasingly interested in including articles providing ethical analysis of scientific matters. All things considered, this development is welcome, not only because attention to ethical issues is important, but also because the trend feeds itself — it causes more and more people to become interested in and give attention to ethical issues. The problem with trends is that they are often not very reflective. They are not created by vast numbers of independently minded people coincidentally having the same idea. Instead, they emerge as increasing numbers of people emulate others. When the trend is greater attention to ethics, the danger is that the interest will not always be genuine. In other words, when all those around one are professing the importance of ethics, there is (often unconscious) pressure on one to offer similar professions, whether one has a deep commitment to the idea or not. As a result many people will pay mere lip service to ethics, often without realizing that they are not actually behaving any differently. It is not surprising that many scientists (like many nonscientists) lack a deep commitment to the ethical evaluation of their work. Because current orthodoxies about what is ethical in science are probably not all correct, a thoroughgoing ethical evaluation of scientific practice would at least sometimes be critical — and sometimes extremely critical.”
Science operates independently from ethics and morality

Joseph Fletcher (prof. of medical ethics, Univ. of Virginia School of Medicine), The Ethics of Genetic Control, 1974, p. 18

“Alfred North Whitehead and others who have examined human ideas and concluded that science is indifferent to ethics. They think it is characteristic of science that it ignores all judgments of values, both esthetic and moral.”
Scientists react to ethical challenges by adjusting their ethical rules

David Benatar (professor of philosophy and head of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa.), “Unscientific ethics: science and selective ethics,” The Hastings Center Report, January-February 2007, p. 31

“Naturally, scientists involved in widely accepted but ethically problematic practices would be deeply threatened. Their options would be (a) to abandon the problematic practices, (b) to abandon ethics, or (c) to select an alternative ethical evaluation that endorses the practices. The first choice would threaten their livelihood or professional development; the second, their sense of themselves as scientists of integrity. The upshot is that the third option is psychologically easiest, especially given the human capacity for self-deception. The problem, however, is that selective ethics is bad ethics for just the same reasons that selective science is bad science. In ethics, as in science, the evidence must precede the conclusion.”

SCIENTISTS ARE MORALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR DISCOVERIES

Moral responsibility remains even if the results are undesirable or unanticipated

Rene Jules Dubos (bacteriologist, Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research), “Utopias and Human Goals” in The Fate of Man, ed. by Crane Brinton, 1961, p. 475

“The scientist has convinced society that his efforts deserve to be generously supported because he has become one of its most effective servants. As a penalty for his dependence on public support and for the influence that he has gained he cannot escape being made responsible for his activities, even if their results are different from what he had hoped.”

SCIENCE MUST HAVE RESTRICTED SCOPE

Science is beginning to dominate society

Rene Jules Dubos (bacteriologist, Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research), “Utopias and Human Goals” in The Fate of Man, ed. by Crane Brinton, 1961, p. 474

“Technology is now displacing philosophical and religious values as the dominant force in shaping the world, and therefore in determining human fate. What man does today and will do tomorrow is determined to a large extent by the technologies that expert knowledge puts at his disposal, and his dreams for the future reflect the achievements and promises of the scientists.”
The focus on applications undercuts basic research

Robert A. Liston (freelance author on science and social issues, former newspaper and magazine journalist), Promise or Peril: The Role of Technology in Society, 1976, p. 49

“Too often we demand immediate results from research and neglect fundamental knowledge. Science has learned a great deal, but we know perhaps only a fraction of what there is to know. And what we do not know limits the capacity of mankind.”
Stalling science would prevent the emergence of any new threats

Rene Jules Dubos (bacteriologist, Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research), “Utopias and Human Goals” in The Fate of Man, ed. by Crane Brinton, 1961, p. 476

“It is often suggested that a moratorium on science would give mankind the opportunity to search its soul and discover a solution to the problems which threaten its very survival. Although no one is naive enough to hope that stopping the clock would bring about the solution of ancient human problems, many believe that a scientific status quo might prevent or retard the development of new threats.”
No scientist insists on unlimited freedom to experiment

Stanley Cohen (prof. of medicine, Stanford Univ.), in Human Life: Controversies and Concerns, ed. by Bruce Bohle, 1979, p. 194

“While most scientists would defend their right to freedom of scientific thought and discourse, I do not know of anyone who has proposed that scientists should be free to do whatever experiments they choose regardless of the consequences.”



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