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Should research be subject to ethical responsibility?

I am writing an essay on the possession of knowledge and how it carries an ethical responsibility.

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    Nov 27 2012: I think knowledge should be free to everyone . Every individual has a choice what to do with the knowledge its his own will. However in a society one will be bound within rules about what is ethical and what is not.
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      Nov 27 2012: basically you are saying that knowledge is not the direct cause of behavior. knowledge might influence some people to do some things, but they can not ever blame knowledge for it, and the way to change their actions is not through denying knowledge. i agree to that notion.
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    Nov 27 2012: discovery, as the name implies, is not creation. the truth is out there, it exists without us knowing about it. scientific discovery just reveals that existing structure of the universe. therefore it can not have any ethical implications.
    • Nov 27 2012: What if I try to establish the presence of a "faith" gene i.e. if you possess this faith gene, you will have faith, if you don't have this gene then you will lack faith? It does have ethical implications if you try to use science to destroy faith by establishing a biological origin for it
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        Nov 27 2012: 1, what if?
        2, if it is genetic, how could i destroy anyone's faith?
        • Nov 27 2012: Faith is presence of belief without recourse to physical reality. To study faith and attempt to find a physical cause of it is to destroy it. If you use logic to destroy faith that is original sin. While the Bible is largely allegorical, one of the most profound passage in Genesis was when God told Adam not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

          In other words God was saying to Adam, "Believe in me; have faith in me." Satan said to Eve, "Listen to me." Satan used logic on Eve to get her to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The first time logic was used it was used for evil i.e. to destroy faith in God. Now what are scientists trying to do? To portray the religious community as believing in the God of the Gaps i.e. more and more phenemena once believed to have supernatural occurrences can be explained by science. It is the avowed goal of people like Dawkins to eradicate religion, and, it appears, the belief in faith.You can destroy someone's faith by getting them to doubt it.
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        Nov 27 2012: you are contradicting yourself here. you just started with faith being genetic, and now you are talking about destroying it. how can i destroy it if it is genetic? either one or the other.
        • Nov 27 2012: I'm saying that attempting to define a biological "cause" of faith, may have no validity except to scientists, but if it is used to destroy faith that others have, then it is fundamentally evil.
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        Nov 27 2012: there is no such thing as "validity to someone". something is either valid or not. there is either a biological background for faith, or there is not. finding it out won't change it. not knowing it won't help making decisions.
        • Nov 28 2012: Valididity is in the eye of the beholder so I hold your argument invalid :)
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        Nov 28 2012: if you think validity depends on the observer, your opinion holds no water for me
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          Nov 28 2012: Agreed. We can discount arguments that run away to the epistemological doubting of any knowledge.
  • Nov 27 2012: Doesn't it already? Not to be criptic or unkind, but think about it for a second.
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    Nov 29 2012: Robert Oppenheimer was nominated for the Nobel Prize for physics three times. Given the magnitude of his lead, why did he never received the price by the committee?

    Neither science nor ethics is capable to understand the whole sope of any new result in research, so ethics to me is related to applied science only.

    Finding 'the power' in nuclear physics is ethically neutral, building a bomb by this knowledge isn't. Is ethics able to prevent the application of science? In short: No.

    We have so many arguments against each ethical responsibility, that always will be build what can be build.

    Arguments like: 'If not us, others will do. (weapons)' or 'It is for self-defence only (weapons)' or 'We have to fight starvation (GM food)' etc.

    Any ethical argumentation can be lead ad absurdum by double negation. We invent weapons (bad) against the weapons (bad) of any potential agressor to defend ourselfs (= good).

    Even without full understanding of long term effects (bad) we use our current and insufficient knowledge in genetical engineering (bad) to help to produce more food to feed the world (= good).

    And on this we haven't even discussed the 'profit' side of both examples.

    Only if ethics was capable to define timeless and universal 'higher truth', which it can't, we would be able to bust those vicious circles of arguments. But even then they still had to be applied, which is a different issue all by itself.

    All I can do personally is to take my ethical responsibility wherever I am able to spot it and to hope to be strong enough to stick with it in times of need.
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    Nov 28 2012: Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct.

    I hope that we can agree on the above defination, that would make conversation much easier. A inventor / scientest / researcher would normally have a hypothesis or theory that they are attempting to validate through scientific method. In the case of medical research there may be a condition that they are attempting to neutralize or reverse.

    As a example I develop a laser to be used in eye and soft organ surgery. A military weapons engineer says that the laser has other possibilities and converts it to weapon status. As the laser was originally my idea and was developed for medical purposes and I abhore the use of my invention as a weapon I have acted ethically but the application as a weapon to me is unethical. Am I by default unethical?

    The computer is a great tool in research and development but is also a tool for perverts to prey on victims. How things will be used once the researcher / developer completes his work is beyond his control.

    However, having said that .. I think that Timmothy Oleary and his development of LSD was way over the ethical line. But since he was not centured by his university, punished, or fired the ethics of the university and my vision of ethics are very different.

    This leads us to the question of who sets the ethical standards .. is it our culture .. if other cultures disagree which is ethical counrty A or B.

    Some religions would never eat pork, some beef, some bottom dwellers, some no meat, etc ... who is right?

    If there is a ethical responsibility it must be applied to the application not the initial research or development.

    The exception, in my opinion, would be to endow a hypothesis that is designed for evil and has no other value or percieved value.

    Because ethics deals with the argument of right and wrong is there to be consequences?

    All the best
  • Nov 27 2012: Gabriella,
    YOU'RE the one who is supposed to write the essay. You should do the hard work of thinking and researching. Asking on TED unethical, on your behalf. Not that I care, but since you're asking about ethical responsibility, it is a bit too ironic.
    • Nov 28 2012: You have a point, and an interesting point. But you seem to be assuming that Gabriella is trying to dodge the hard work.

      IMO, using a TED conversation as a research tool is completely ethical

      To me, the irony is that the wide range of view points might make the work much harder.
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      Nov 28 2012: Talking with people absolutely counts as researching the topic. She's not asking anyone to write the thing for here. You might as well say reading a book on the subject is copying the authors thoughts. Wrong.
      • Nov 28 2012: Trying to figure out where to look, what to read, and actually reading and digesting what one has read is quite effortful. THIS, in contrast, is lazy. Also note the amount of effort Gabriella has invested in framing the question and discussing the topic with commenters here.
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          Nov 29 2012: Yeah, the question does seem to have been posted with minimal effort. Though I wouldn't begrudge someone asking this kind of question here assuming they were still off doing other research themselves. Obviously, if this is it, then yeah it's lazy.
  • Nov 27 2012: "Should research be subject to ethical responsibility?"

    Do you mean to ask whether potentially dangerous technology should be invented (like nuclear weapons), or whether research should be done according to ethical standards (so not like Dr. Mengele)? Those are two very different issues but the way you framed your question it's unclear which one you meant.

    Anyway, if it's the former I can tell you it doesn't matter what you think about, you can't stope people from inventing potentially dangerous stuff, because there will always be some rogue country or corporation that breaks the rules and in the end ALL technology can potentialy be misused. If it's the latter the answer should be a resounding YES. Sure some people say it's really necessary, but until they volunteer themselves I have a hard time believing them.

    This reminds me of a sci fi show, on a ship cut-off from Earth, where one "the-ends-justify-all-means" scientist says it's imperative some experiment should be done with a human subject and he tries to convince other people to volunteer, even though the other scientists say it's very dangerous, when the one scientist finally begs the commander of the ship to perform the experiment the commander says to him "I'm not stopping you" [from doing the experiment with yourself as the subject], the one scientist than walks away and the commander mumbles "yeah, I thought so".
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    Nov 27 2012: Are you writing about whether knowledge must be shared with anyone who could benefit from it, or are you asking whether there are ethical and unethical ways of conducting research and portraying its results?

    In the first category one might find the issue of whether companies must share with potential rivals their intermediate results in research that is underway (or the recipes for their most popular dishes...). In the second category are questions like whether a researcher can do experiments on people who don't understand the risks or can dismiss data selectively that do not confirm his hypothesis.
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      Nov 27 2012: I agree with Fritzie. Please clarify if you are asking about conducting or the dissemination of research.

      All research is subject to ethics, the difference being the culture it is conducted in.
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    Nov 27 2012: Research should be subject to ethical responsibilty. It is a search for knowledge and truth but such should not be done by sinister, dodgy or shady means.
  • Nov 27 2012: Well, it may seem obvious but I have to explore all possibilities to the question. It can be this way or this way..
    I believe it does, but others may not.
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      Nov 27 2012: Do I understand you are not asking whether it does or does not exist now, but you are asking SHOULD THERE BE an intrinsic ethical responsibility associated with all knowledge? Either way the answer is "yes".
      QUOTE: "All wish to possess knowledge, but few, comparatively speaking, are willing to pay the price."-- Juvenal.