Ethics in Scientific Research

More
11 Jul 2015 19:50 #197551 by Gisteron
Maybe I misunderstood the initial question, though as I got it, it was not so much about the means by which we generate the knowledge as about what that knowledge is subsequently used for... And if I recall correctly that is what I addressed, too, so I don't know how unethical research conduct came into the conversation. Of course that is in itself a field worth delving into, albeit that there are few things left to say on that; we should, in my opinion, however, remember to not confuse these two rather distinct topics.

Better to leave questions unanswered than answers unquestioned
The following user(s) said Thank You: Keladry

Please Log in to join the conversation.

  • Khaos
  • Khaos's Avatar
  • Guest
11 Jul 2015 21:49 #197567 by Khaos
Replied by Khaos on topic Ethics in Scientific Research

Edan wrote:

Khaos wrote: I you were to really look however, we took a lot of good information of many of those unethical trials.

Not to justify them, but in some cases, without that knowledge there would not have been positive gains in many a field for the masses.

Which always makes my mind spin a bit.

No, it shouldnt be copied, but had it not happened at all...

Then it becomes a strange argument of " Is it ok to use information even if you know the source was...less than ethical? Even at the benefit of the many?

Science has had to answer that question, not just contemplate it.


The problem with these unrepeatable trials is that now we cannot know that they truly represent what happened. To take two well known examples, Milgram's experiments with obedience, and Zimbardo's experiment on power and authority, present a less than flattering picture of humanity. Repetition is an important part of science, because evidence doesn't mean proof. There are criticisms of the experiments of both researchers I mentioned, and because their results show one thing they are often quoted in papers etc, however without repeats, any flaws in their research may have lead to their results being disproven later along the line. We cannot know and I think we should be cautious therefore about using evidence from unrepeatable research.


Sure, but again, since we cannot repeat them from the ethical standpoint, you destroy any real benefits of the evidence one way or another.

So I agree, you cant use it, but if your unwilling to repeat it to see if it is indeed repeatable, you have created a real problem in regards ot the evidence anyway.

Still, yow wont see me championing the repeat of those experiments, but at the same time, the problem of advancement in such way is self-evident.

Its what happens when subjectivity meats objectivity.

Everyone is all about the relativity of good and evil, or right and wrong, nut science has a way of making those borders at once more clear for people, but also illustrates the proof of the relativity of such concepts simultaneously unlike most other methods of exploration.

Please Log in to join the conversation.

More
12 Jul 2015 00:09 - 12 Jul 2015 01:04 #197578 by OB1Shinobi
ethics i think are pretty nearly the same everywhere - when i contribute to a cause that damages the world i live in then it is my own conscience that convicts me, wouldnt matter if it were a scientific research project or a political action campaign - if i saw ahead of time that my work was going to harm other people and i continued with it then i personally would consider myself as having betrayed my jedi path

this is my personal way of thinking and really there isnt enough information here for me to say that your situation would fall in the category im describing - like you said, it is not possible to predict the full ramifications of research

even with casual conversation, if i express ideas that could result in people wanting to do harm to others or justifying the harm they do (as an example) i would see myself as having contributed to that, even if only up to a point

i have to hold myself responsible for the type of influence i have on the world and direct that influence to the best of my ability - imo thats one of the core tenents of being Jedi regardless of which term is used

People are complicated.
Last edit: 12 Jul 2015 01:04 by OB1Shinobi.

Please Log in to join the conversation.

  • CryojenX
  • CryojenX's Avatar
  • Guest
12 Jul 2015 01:06 - 12 Jul 2015 01:08 #197585 by CryojenX
Replied by CryojenX on topic Ethics in Scientific Research

Gisteron wrote: I would say that despite all the purely destructive inventions, overall, the products of science have made and continue to make the world a better place.


It seems to me that technology and scientific discoveries have made the world a different place. Better in some areas, worse in others, however those really are moral judgements, and as such aren't really very objective.

Or maybe I'm just full of it! :lol:
Last edit: 12 Jul 2015 01:08 by CryojenX. Reason: emphasis added

Please Log in to join the conversation.

  • Keladry
  • Keladry's Avatar Topic Author
  • Guest
12 Jul 2015 05:39 - 12 Jul 2015 05:56 #197600 by Keladry
Replied by Keladry on topic Ethics in Scientific Research

OB1Shinobi wrote: ethics i think are pretty nearly the same everywhere - when i contribute to a cause that damages the world i live in then it is my own conscience that convicts me, wouldnt matter if it were a scientific research project or a political action campaign - if i saw ahead of time that my work was going to harm other people and i continued with it then i personally would consider myself as having betrayed my jedi path

this is my personal way of thinking and really there isnt enough information here for me to say that your situation would fall in the category im describing - like you said, it is not possible to predict the full ramifications of research

even with casual conversation, if i express ideas that could result in people wanting to do harm to others or justifying the harm they do (as an example) i would see myself as having contributed to that, even if only up to a point

i have to hold myself responsible for the type of influence i have on the world and direct that influence to the best of my ability - imo thats one of the core tenents of being Jedi regardless of which term is used


The issue I am struggling with is that it is usually much more complicated at least in the field of research that I am in then a clear cut this will cause harm or will not cause harm. At least in the research projects I have seen and been involved with there are clear good things that will happen as a result of the research being done, and also in some case's there are clearly way's the work being done could be used to harm others. There is not this research will only cause harm or research that is guaranteed to be harmless. I want to emphasize the could part. Even for research that could possibly be used to harm others it is not certain that it will be. Then as a researcher (and a jedi) I am struggling with how to weigh the potential good vs. the potential harm against each other this part is I think going to be highly subjective. Then there is also the fact that I am human and not all knowing so I can't say that I have seen all possible ways my work could be used. Gistern also made a very relevant point that I had not considered which is that even if I abandon this particular research direction then eventually if someone else takes it up then they may not do everything they can to make the potential negative consequences known or mitigate the potential negative consequences. Which could possibly be worse then continuing with that line of inquiry myself.
On the other hand I do believe that I have the right as the a scientist to decide that I do not want to be involved in a particular line of inquiry, because I believe that it is not ethical. Scientists are not slaves to the rest of humanity anymore then scientists are a master race that get to decide what information humanity gets to have. And yes there is the possibility that I am wrong about a specific research project, but I am also the one that has to live with myself if I am not wrong. Also, I haven't included the details, because I wanted a more general discussion especially if there are other scientists here that might be struggling with the same issues I am here. I am finding it hard to find anyone in my department to have this discussion with as well. The culture in my department does not encourage this type of discussion. There is almost no discussion of possible consequences of that certain area's of research might have at least not the negative consequences. As far as I can tell these discussions do not happen in any professional setting in my department. Hence, the post here this site seemed like a safe place to have this type of discussion. I want to thank everyone for the thought provoking posts they have made so far. They have definitely given me a lot to think about.
Last edit: 12 Jul 2015 05:56 by Keladry.

Please Log in to join the conversation.

More
12 Jul 2015 08:29 #197601 by Whyte Horse

Keladry wrote: I am struggling with how to weigh the potential good vs. the potential harm against each other this part is I think going to be highly subjective.

The solution here is to discuss it with the parties that will be affected. I recently had a discussion with Richard M. Stallman about my work being used to decrypt 1024 bit encryption via quantum computers. He was really nice and all... I don't think he knew about the 512 bit d-wave quantum computers being sold on the open market to anybody who wants one and now they've jumped to 1024 bit. Anyway I warned him and he probably passed it along and now everyone is using 4096 bit keys. Anyhooser, just secretly inform the people who need to know ;)

Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.

Please Log in to join the conversation.

More
12 Jul 2015 09:23 - 12 Jul 2015 09:33 #197602 by Gisteron

CryojenX wrote:

Gisteron wrote: I would say that despite all the purely destructive inventions, overall, the products of science have made and continue to make the world a better place.


It seems to me that technology and scientific discoveries have made the world a different place. Better in some areas, worse in others, however those really are moral judgements, and as such aren't really very objective.

Or maybe I'm just full of it! :lol:

Oh, I didn't say morally better. It is that, in my opinion, too, and to no small part because discoveries in science kept pushing it there; However, what I meant there is that it is actually a "better place", i.e. a finer place to live in. We live three times as long as we used to, which seems trivial considering quality of life trumps quantity, but immediately becomes obviously better since that gives us more time to explore ourselves and to enjoy life whereas earlier we used to live to survive and hoped to reproduce, both of which were very dirty and risky processes before the advent of medicine that wasn't based on demons and curses and before the advent of farming equipment that wasn't based on hats large enough to protect us from the sun we spent 14 hours a day in, trying to spend the rest of the day sleeping in piles of old, highly flammable hay, amidst disease-ridden rats who already did their part in poisoning our water supply that we knew not how to clean.

Also, ridiculously long and mostly correct sentences. Yey! :silly:

And to get back on topic, how do we determine what even are possible outcomes? That maybe a major concern long before we make any moral judgements, let alone start making decisions to act or not to act in particular ways. And something tells me that an ethicist may not be the best qualified person to know what can come from what discovery in, say, chemistry. I mean, unless you are actually on the project, how can you even estimate what can come from it and what can't with any reliable accuracy?

Better to leave questions unanswered than answers unquestioned
Last edit: 12 Jul 2015 09:33 by Gisteron.

Please Log in to join the conversation.

Moderators: RexZero