History and Philosophy of Physics


Right and Wrong in the Conduct of Science

Authors: Mukunda P. Das, Frederick Green

Science, in particular physics, is a collective enterprise; a fruit of the exquisitely social nature of human living. So it is inevitable to encounter ethical issues in the natural sciences, since the contest of differing interests and views is perennial in its practice, indeed essential to its momentum. The crucial ethical question always hangs in the air: How is the truth best served? This is a very limited imperative for science to follow, excluding as it does most questions of meaning and valuation. For example, in science one does not normally ask: Why is the truth to be served? In this paper we describe some ethical aspects of our own discipline of science: their cultural context and the bounds which they delineate for themselves, sometimes in transgression. We argue that the minimalist ethic espoused in science, namely loyalty to truth, is a bellwether for the much wider, more problematic, and more vital consequences of ethics – and its failure – in human relationships at large.

Comments: 13 Pages. Presented by MPD at the International Conference on Bounds of Ethics, Bangalore, Jan 6-9, 2014.

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