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Does the possession of knowledge carry an ethical responsibility?

To what extent do you agree?

  • Jan 22 2013: Is not the possession by itself of the knowledge what brings up the moral issue. The ethical problem begins on the sharing and applying of that knowledge. Not sharing or applying a knowledge that can save lives, is obviously the unethical thing to do, on the other hand, it is also obviously unethical to share or apply a knowledge which's unique (or main) usage is to destroy. The extent of the moral responsibility for having a specific piece of knowledge depends on the degree or benefit and damage such knowledge can cause. But the thing is not so simple, most of the times when you generate new knowledge you cannot figure out more than just one application, or maybe a few. To make it worst, most of the knowledge we have can be used for constructive or destructive purposes, so there's not an easy way to pound the ethical value of sharing knowledge, so most of the times you guess...

    Let say you have the knowledge for making knives, you know knives are both weapons and tools, so what you do? keep secret that knowledge and damage those that will use knives as a tools, or spread the word and benefit those that will use them as weapons...

    I hope you see, whatever your decision may be in this case, you will be acting both ethical and unethical, at the same time.. to which extent?... you just can't know in advance.
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      Jan 22 2013: Well said George

      Moreover morality , ethics etc evolves with knowledge as well...
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    Jan 22 2013: Yes

    The definition of ethics is survival. (not morality) Survival not just for yourself but for all life. When you get the idea that you are in the same boat with all life you are willing to take responsibility for all life, not some sort of self abnegation but real responsibility for your fellows.
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    Feb 4 2013: all knowledge carry ethical responsibility. However, it is ethical responsibility that you need to define. Different cultures, different people define ethical differently. I dare you to find me the correct version, or perhaps, are all versions correct??
  • Jan 26 2013: There's a hungry animal in a cage and a button to feed it and a button to give it a painful electric shock. I know which button is which. You don't. You have to push a button. You ask me which button is which. I may now either tell the truth, lie, or say I don't know. If I think it's likely you will try to give the animal a shock, it may be ethical to lie or say I don't know. If I have no reason to distrust you, it is ethical for me to tell the truth.

    If I didn't know which button was which, it would only be ethical for me to say I don't know. But since I do know, ethics require me to use my knowledge responsibly.
  • Jan 24 2013: Everything has ethical responsibilites.
  • Jan 22 2013: There are various types of knowledges and we need to use them wisely.
    If we possess knoweldge that can bless the human life , we are responsible to share it with others.Some knoweldges should be given freely with everyone whereas others should be monetized.We have been given a brain ,parents and siblings and friends to help us how to manage our knowledges effectively.
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      Gail .

      • +1
      Jan 22 2013: What knowledge should be monetized?
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    Gail .

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    Jan 22 2013: For me it does. For most people, it does not.

    If I have information that will dramatically improve your life, but I withhold it unless you pay me money for that knowledge - and then I only release parts so that you will have to keep paying me for more parts, then I am no better than the Wall Street Exec or hedge fund manager who pays himself a three billion dollar bonus for screwing me because he withheld knowledge that would have helped me.

    In saying this, I emphasize the word "knowledge". Knowledge does not mean untested assumption. Knowledge does not mean partial truth. Knowledge does not mean faith. Knowledge means that which is known.
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    Jan 22 2013: The possession of knowledge carries ethical and moral responsibilities. Knowledge provides insight; and such it is power and advantage. A depraved human being can not be trusted with power and advantage; because he or she is not guided by bounds of ethics and morals.
    Power without control, the right control, reminds one of a damaged nuclear power plant; the power would have been put to good and productive use; but it is not, because it destroys.
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    Feb 1 2013: Ethics are social constructions and influenced by time, place and resources.
    Knowledge is also the interpretation of data through socially constructed frameworks.
    There is still so much 'out there' that is in need of some kind of interpretation and understanding.
    Religion seems to work as a framework where there is an 'oral' tradition of record keeping or a 'pictoral' tradition of record keeping e.g the patterns in mosques or the artworks of the Renaissance.
    Science seems to work as a framework where there is a 'written' culture of letters or symbols, it seems to be more precise because it either is or isn't and is far less open to ambiguity of meaning. Maths is one of the most rigid languages I can think of.
    So much is the knowledge 'worth' as a marketable commodity seems to be the essence of it's value.
    And there is a saying knowledge is power and another one that says that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
    Hmmmmm.........not easy is it.
  • Dan F

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    Jan 30 2013: Depends on the knowledge, the motivation and the situation.

    Expressing a view or position, especially concerning something controversial requires intelligence and discretion to be an effective voice and good representative of what it is you as an individual choose to espoused.

    Maintaining personal integrity is the guiding light. It is important to be true to yourself about what you believe or think. Ethics is what gives personal integrity value. Likewise, this sense of personal integrity means we should try to live in accordance to what we know and believe to exhibit consistent behavior and feel good about ourselves.

    Just because someone is knowledgeable about something and has personal integrity doesn't mean that position is ethically responsible. There are religious scholars. It is possible to get a college degree in theology. As some one educated in biology my world view is a degree in religions is nonsense. Knowledge alone is independent of ethics, but the more diverse is our understanding of the real world the more likely we are to be more truthful in what we think and say.

    Knowledge alone does not mean we are automatically more ethically responsible.
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    Jan 24 2013: Unfortunately it does not, not for all at least ...