Monday, October 20, 2008

To ought or not to ought

So, this guy's position is that scientists ought not to use word like "ought" in their positions?

I'm being snarky, but I, for the most part, agree with his point of view. Where I disagree is on the pragmatic level. Scientists are human beings and expecting them to artificially separate themselves from questions of morality is both difficult (because they are human) and, quite possibly, dangerous. It also encourages the layman's misconceptions that scientists are nothing but eggheads who have no appreciation of "real" life.

Scientists should think about the moral implications of their work. But they should also avoid letting moral qualms get in the way of pure research. It's a delicate balancing act that can't be resolved with hard and fast rules about what "ought" to be done.


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