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GOWTHAM REDDY

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“The possession of knowledge carries an ethical responsibility.”

Is everyone's right in this world to know everything. What are the limitations of knowledge? Who decides what a person should know?

In everyday life.. If you are sitting an exam and you have know the answers to the questions but your classmate doesn't, and asks you for help. Do you have an ethical responsibility to impart that knowledge?

Albert Einstein had unparalleled knowledge of Nuclear Physics. Did he have an ethical responsibility to impart this knowledge?
Led to the invention of the nuclear bomb
Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In the case of Ben Johnson at the 1988 Seoul Olympics he was given performance enhancing drugs by his doctor, not knowing what they were but trusting his doctor. He then got caught and lost his world record and gold medal. Was the doctor responsible as he was the one who had the expertise of the medication and if it could be caught or not?

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    Nov 27 2012: In the case of student A passing answers to student B on the test (out of ethical responsibility to share information), does that scenario then include also the two students' sharing with the teacher just after the test their knowledge that student B did not know the answer himself and that the answer he wrote in on the test was provided by student A?

    In learning situations it is often useful not to spoon-feed content to those who don't know it but rather to guide discovery so that the student develops the capability to reach conclusions on his own. Teachers call this sort of help that does not go as far as handing over the answer "scaffolding."

    People here sometimes do that with/for students or those working on projects as well. Sometimes a person with a project posts a question on TED. People here often respond not by doing the person's footwork for him or giving him a nicely packaged and carefully cited answer to use (even if that is what the person is hoping for) but rather by raising issues to consider or question or doubts about where the person's arguments seem to be going.

    I think that is a good way of sharing knowledge and often better in the long run for the person with the project than doing his footwork for him.
  • Nov 27 2012: "Is everyone's right in this world to know everything."

    Yes, except for obvious exceptions such as the details of corporate and governmetal negotiations, military secrets (troop positions, tactics) and the private information of other people.

    "In everyday life.. If you are sitting an exam and you have know the answers to the questions but your classmate doesn't, and asks you for help. Do you have an ethical responsibility to impart that knowledge?"

    No, he had plenty of time to obtain the knowledge before the exam and he can still do so after (and retake the exam), the exam is meant to test whether he is smart and responsible enough to obtain the information from class, his textbooks or the internet, when you help him pass a test he couldn't have passed on his own then you're helping an incompetent person to get a degree and that's not good. Of course there's a grey area here: when your neighbor merely forgot some lengthy formula but does remember how to apply it and what it stands for then it's not a crime to help him out.

    "Albert Einstein had unparalleled knowledge of Nuclear Physics. Did he have an ethical responsibility to impart this knowledge?
    Led to the invention of the nuclear bomb
    Hiroshima and Nagasaki."

    It was Enrico Fermi that had that knowledge but if he had not shared it with the allies someone else would have, or worse, they would have shared it with the Nazis.

    "In the case of Ben Johnson at the 1988 Seoul Olympics he was given performance enhancing drugs by his doctor, not knowing what they were but trusting his doctor. He then got caught and lost his world record and gold medal. Was the doctor responsible as he was the one who had the expertise of the medication and if it could be caught or not?"

    Yes, the doctor was responsible, but the athlete still didn't deserve the medal because his performance was not his own.
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    Nov 27 2012: Knowledge is a good thing; but the application of knowledge by an evil mind could have disastrous consequences. In this case the problem is neither the knowledge nor its transfer, but its application.

    The exam hall/room is not a place for the transfer of knowledge from student to student, it is a place of assessment; so 'helping' a fellow student at that time is not laudable.
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    Dec 19 2012: I believe that there is an ethical imperative to impart useful knowledge. Yes, Einstein had an ethical imperative to impart his knowledge even though others used it unwisely. It was not Einstein's fault that others lacked an ethical compass.

    If I am taking a test, and I know an answer that a classmate doesn't, I have no ethical imperative to impart knowledge. The would-be cheater only cheats himself, and my ethical compass assures me that I will hurt him if I enable him.

    Ben Johnson may or may not have known that something wasn't quite right in his body while using the drugs he was given. Athletes are athletes because they know their bodies so well. It's their responsibility to know it. Was Ben Johnson in denial as he looked at his Olympic aspirations? Perhaps. Was this used against him? Perhaps.

    The bottom line is that we are each and all responsible for becoming self-aware, and those who are self-aware do not harm others or themselves. They do not flinch in the face of knowledge about themselves that they would rather not see. They face it, deal with it, and go forth as better persons, making their mark on the world in their own way.

    That people are so self-unaware is the core problem. This is a result of bad educational paradigms and in the west, Abrahamic religions.
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    Nov 27 2012: Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct.

    If we use the above defination as a mark in the sand .... Then sharing a answer or any discussion during a test is wrong and as a rule both would be punished by disqualification and recieve a "F".

    In defense of Fermi and Einstein ... If all inventors, scientists, mathematicians, etc .. were held responsible for the end use of their contributions then the jails would be full of our brightest minds.

    I am responsible for anything I allow to be inserted in or on my body with my permission. So was Johnson. The doctor was criminally stupid.

    For sake of argument lets say there is a ethical responsibility that goes with knowledge ... Say you violate that ethic what would be the punishment .... who would determine the ethics ... who would set the punishment ... would there be a test that would determine if you were worthy of recieving knowledge ... would you have a stamp that allowed you to enter a library or sign on a computer .... would you have a U E on your forehead so all would know your unethical ....

    I think that Timmothy Leary crossed the line when he intentionally developed LSD. There was no ethical punishment as he remained teaching at the university. Since I consider him unethical is the school also branded? WIKI leaks? Salem witch trials .... the catholic church ... the list goes on forever.

    Are my ethics the same as yours .... are they a part of our culture ... if so are all other cultures unethical?

    Good subject. Thanks. All the best. Bob.
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      Nov 27 2012: Respectfully ethics and morality and justice are 3 different subjects.

      Ethics can best be thought of as survival. Survival is not a yes or no question it is to a matter of degree. E.G. Bill Gates is surviving better than a bum on the street. Survival is also not just about the individual it is about survival of your family, community, mankind, the planet, etc. I think the concept of ethics should answer your question?

      Morality is what is agreed to by a culture or people. E.G. In Nazi Germany it was considered to be immoral to be a Jew. This has nothing to do with ethics.

      Justice has to do with laws and punishment for breaking them.
  • Nov 27 2012: Life carries ethical responsibility.
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    Nov 27 2012: Gabriella Salazar asks the same question. See the latest post in the QUESTIONS category of TED Conversations.
  • Nov 27 2012: I am not sure about the three examples. It seems to me that Ben Johnson has a stronger defense than Jim Thorp is you are right. Maybe they will return the medal posthumously But he won't care. Maybe we need multiple situations or decision points.