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← Who matters (or should) when scientists engage in ethical decision-making?

KenChimp's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by KenChimp

  • Do you feel like you have an interest in what science and scientists are up to? If so, how would you describe that interest? If not, why not?
  • Yes. My interest consists of three categories:

    1. Pure curiosity
    2. Advancement of individual and species knowledge
    3. Technological innovations based upon that knowledge that may impact my life in positive and negative ways
  • Do you think scientists should treat “the public” as an interested party when they try to make ethical decisions? Why or why not?
  • If they are simply making ethical decisions for their own behavior, no. If they are attempting to influence scientific endeavor with their ethical considerations, yes.

    If scientists are attempting to influence public policy (government) with their ethical decisions then I feel they MUST treat "the public" as an interested party.

  • If you think scientists should treat “the public” as an interested party when they try to make ethical decisions, what should scientists be doing to get an accurate read on the public’s interests?
  • I am of the opinion that "public opinion" is a poor task master or advisor for public policy. If the majority of people decided tomorrow that mandating everyone eat spinach is a good idea, there is no way in hell I would accept that mandate for my life (whether I enjoy eating spinach or not). It is no one's business but my own what I think, say or do so far as it concerns only my own private life.

    For that matter, if scientists discovered that eating cauliflower 3 times per day would, on average, give me a 20% increased chance of avoiding colon cancer (or whatever), I would take that information and the advice of scientists based on that information into consideration for my life. But if the scientists attempted to influence public policy for laws mandating the consumption of cauliflower three times per day for every person, I would probably blow a head gasket in outrage.

    What scientists discover and their own ethical considerations based on their discoveries are their business. What I do with that knowledge and advice in so far as it affects my own private life is my business.

  • And, for the sake of symmetry, do you think members of the public ought to take account of the interests of science or scientists when they try to make ethical decisions? Why or why not?
  • Absolutely. I think they should, but I do NOT think such should be mandated by public policy. I'm of the opinion that ignoring scientific discovery is foolish. But a person has the right to be a fool if s/he wants to be....with few, certain, reasonable limits.

    Fri, 27 Apr 2012 20:40:43 UTC | #937812