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Adding on to what has been previously written here, scientific advances have great potential for both help and harm to society and mankind. As these advances become possible, we cross scientific frontiers by pursuing them. Once we cross those frontiers, there is no going back. Once an atomic bomb was successfully tested, there was no uninventing it. Now we have an issue with nuclear proliferation and we have crossed a frontier which gives humans the power to end all civilization as we know it.
The morals and ethics that should be involved, then, is that we carefully consider whether or not crossing those scientific frontiers is the best course of action, and what the impacts of doing so will be on the human race and the world.
There are two commonly used definitions of scientific ethics. In one case, ethics are rules, standards, or guidelines that govern the conduct of the members of the scientific community. Bronowski, in Science and Human Values, states:
The world is made, it is powered by science; and for any man to abdicate an interest [for ethics] in science is to walk with open eyes toward slavery.
The second and more widely used definition of ethics deals with moral choices made by the individual in his relationship with others. The fear, here, is the rogue scientist, who--like Victor Frankenstein--develops madman technology that is used to threaten values and standards. Again, Bronowski:
Those who think that science is ethically neutral confuse the findings of science, which are, with the activity of science, which is not.
This is important because changes in the science and technology of the day can present important new challenges to our morals and ethics. If we do not recognize these challenges, we may fall into evil without noticing that we are doing it.
An example of this could perhaps be cloning. If we did not think about the ethics and morals of cloning, we might start cloning people left and right the way they do in "Brave New World." Or, when we learned to transplant organs, if we don't think about the morals of it, we might start harvesting organs from poor people and selling them to rich people.
Scientific and technological development have far reaching and intensive influence individuals, societies and the environment within which people live. It changes the way we live, work, and interact with each other. It puts enormous power in hand of people with technology and resources to influence and control the lives of others, including the environment they live in. This kind of power, when used appropriately, can lead to enormous benefit for every one. However used in appropriately it can lead to misery and destruction. It is absolutely essential to recognize the moral and ethical impact of the use of science and technology to be able to ensure that progress of science and technology leads to more good than harm.
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