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Phil 7570, Fall 2006 Bryan Benham Social Responsibility in Science, or Who is Responsible? 1.

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Presentation on theme: "Phil 7570, Fall 2006 Bryan Benham Social Responsibility in Science, or Who is Responsible? 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 Phil 7570, Fall 2006 Bryan Benham Social Responsibility in Science, or Who is Responsible? 1

2 Thanks to the Faculty! Leslie Francis (Phil & Law) Kathi Mooney (Nursing) Caren Frost (Soc Work) Kim Korinek (Sociology) Rachel Hayes-Harb (Linguistics) Frank Whitby (Biochem) Tom Richmond (Chemistry) David Grunwald (Genetics) Dana Carroll (Biochem) Barbara Graves (Onc Sci) Michael Kay (Biochem) Janet Lindsley (Biochem) Jim Metherall (Genetics) Carlie Murtaugh (Genetics) Marty Rechsteiner (Biochem) Alice Schmid (Genetics) Katie Ullman (Onc Sci)

3 Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. – Albert Einstein ( )

4 Why is imagination important?

5 Scientific Imagination and Moral Imagination

6 Scientific Imagination Concerned with advancing knowledge & technology

7 Scientific Imagination Concerned with advancing knowledge & technology Moral Imagination Concerned with understanding the implications of knowledge and technology

8 Scientific Imagination Concerned with advancing knowledge & technology Moral Imagination Concerned with understanding the implications of knowledge and technology Both are an integral part of research, of being a scientist

9 Most of what we did in this course was aimed at demonstrating that both scientific and moral imagination are important, and unavoidable features of science

10 Course Objectives 1.Increase ethical sensitivity to issues regarding RCR 2.Aid in developing moral reasoning skills; via case studies 3.Acquaint with relevant policies, procedures, and professional standards of ethical research

11 Course Objectives 1.Increase ethical sensitivity to issues regarding RCR 2.Aid in developing moral reasoning skills; via case studies 3.Acquaint with relevant policies, procedures, and professional standards of ethical research

12 Central Dogma The focus of the course is not merely the legal or explicit regulations, but identifying and employing the underlying ethical principles and values that guide responsible research, so that one can (ideally) navigate the rocky shoals and murky waters of daily research practice.

13 Balancing Three Questions 1.What rules or principles apply? 2.What are the consequences? 3.Whose interests are involved? PC I

14 Identifying and balancing the three types of questions requires a degree of moral imagination Next: I want to try to extend this to broader social responsibilities

15 Do research scientists have special responsibilities to society? YES

16 Ruth Ellen Bulger Professor of Anatomy, Physiology, and Genetics at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland. Just how far does the commitment of scientists to [society] extend? There is agreement among scientists on a commitment to doing research in an honest, trustworthy, competent, and ethical manner. There is a general commitment to ethical conduct in research with human volunteers and in treating animal subjects in a humane and respectful way. There is a growing awareness of the importance of educating and working with the public on scientific and ethical issues …. However, [there is] less agreement … among scientists on how best to deal with pressing social issues brought about by scientific developments…”

17 Expanding Circle of Concerns for RCR Social Responsibilities Research Subjects & Other Commitments Professional Relations Research Practice

18 Expanding Circle of Concerns for RCR Social Responsibilities Research Subjects & Other Commitments Professional Relations Research Practice

19 Expanding Circle of Concerns for RCR Social Responsibilities Research Subjects & Other Commitments Professional Relations Research Practice

20 Expanding Circle of Concerns for RCR Social Responsibilities Research Subjects & Other Commitments Professional Relations Research Practice

21 Expanding Circle of Concerns for RCR Social Responsibilities? Research Subjects & Other Commitments Professional Relations Research Practice

22 Do scientists have special responsibilities to society? YES In part because we already recognize responsibilities in research practice, toward human/animal subjects, public source of funding, etc. What about other areas?

23 Responsibility to/for… Future implications or applications of discovery? Shaping and deciding social and public policy? National and/or global interests? –defense, economy, human welfare, etc.

24 Future implications or applications of discovery? Consider –E = mc 2 and Manhattan project….no, but –rDNA and…? Asilomar conference, 1975 GM foods, animals, and humans? –HGP DOE and NIH devoted 3%-5% of annual budget to ethical, social, and legal issues ELSI

25 Shaping and deciding social and public policy? Consider –Climate science (global warming) –Stem cells and cloning –Health policy –Neurosciences and behavioral genetics in legal and social practices Science and Politics?

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28 National and/or global interests? Human Welfare? –AIDS, malaria, etc. –Food, energy, etc. Economic? –Biotech industry –Commercial innovation via discovery Defense? –WW II efforts (Manhattan project) vs. post-WWII efforts (e.g., Hydrogen bomb); cold-war? –War on Terror and Biodefense?

29 Hans Bethe Nobel Prize Physics 1967 WWII worked on radar & atomic bomb But distinguished between –War-time research in the face of aggressor –Weapons research without imminent war Current “war on terrorism”? DoD, DoE, & DARPA –Biodefense? –Brain Research? Moreno, J. D. (2006). The role of brain research in national defense. The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 10.

30 Arthur Caplan Director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania “But the greatest threat to the control and dissemination of research is this marriage with the military and anti-terrorist activities. The scientific community hasn’t given five minutes of thought to how to preserve their rights to publish and pick the topics they want. And there’s no hesitancy on the part of DARPA to say “You can’t publish” or “You can’t do this, this is ours. We own it.”

31 Although there is room for disagreement… In each case, the weight of these considerations favor the idea that scientists do indeed have special responsibilities to society

32 Whence the special responsibility to society? Scientific knowledge has a lasting impact on society. The people who produce knowledge should be responsible for its consequences and uses. Scientific knowledge is meant to benefit society. Much research is relevant to formulating public policy. Scientific knowledge should be freely/openly available to members of society (not for private/elite use only). Scientific research supported by public resources. Scientists have special knowledge and expertise not available to everyone Science is a profession, with codes of ethics that often include social obligations. Scientists are members of society (citizen-scientists).

33 But, most importantly… because scientific research is embedded in a larger social and ethical context; and this is an essential component of scientific research. Science is not removed from society

34 Two worries about a special responsibility Values in science Individual vs. group responsibilities*

35 Facts vs. values? Science is not (strictly speaking) value-free or value-neutral –Although it aims are objective, repeatable, empirically based knowledge Science is a human enterprise…so it is value- infused –Consider how one pursues or promotes own research, how it is communicated, how decisions about funding and peer review are made, etc. –Consider history (In the Name of Science) –Consider “controversial science”

36 History (From Katrin Weigmann, “In the Name of Science”) Writing on the role of biologists in Nazi social policy: “Scientific theories and arguments were used to support the inferiority of other races” “It was scientific and medical methods, scientific and medical speech that were used in carrying out these crimes in the name of science.” “Scientists were too devoted to their peculiar field of research to ever reflect the consequences of their deeds.”

37 Controversial Science Scientific research that is, or is perceived to be, at odds with social values or goals; suggests scientific research carries with it value: –Topics that breach sensitive issues Cloning/Stem-cell, GM agriculture, Sex Research, etc. –Topics that are ideologically loaded IQ Research, AIDS and sexuality research, Global Warming, Evolution in Schools, etc. –Topics that are “beyond the pale of society” Torture Techniques, Head-Transplant Surgery, etc.

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39 The Frankenstein Effect 2

40 Angry Mob Effect Public Overreaction –Offense to Moral Sensibilities –Demonizing Science Fear –Threat to well-being –Challenge to deeply held beliefs Lack of Understanding?

41 Mad Scientist Effect Rejects Social Responsibility –Value-Free Inquiry? –Consequences not considered –Paternalism: science knows best Isolated from Society –Poorly Educates Public –(PR Failure?) –Insensitive to Social Values

42 Arthur Caplan Director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania “You can’t get very far [in scientific research] without values appearing, even in some strictly molecular activities. I would also say that you scare the public if you continue to assert that you don’t think about the ethical aspects of what you are doing. The fear of the ‘mad’ scientist isn’t that he or she is mad, it’s that he or she is indifferent to the ethics of what they are doing.”

43 Responsibility and Imagination Understanding values Understanding implications of research Understanding the direction of science –Individually and collectively –Where it should or shouldn’t go –How it gets there

44 Responsibility and Imagination Understand that research is done within a larger social and ethical context Realize a sense of personal responsibility for one's own research and one's place in society as a researcher Can’t avoid the question of social responsibility…it is intrinsic to science

45 George Brown, Jr. Congressional champion of science at AAAS Colloquium on Science and Technology, “…we need a new and better vision… Neither technology nor economics can answer questions of values. Is our path into the future to be defined by the literally mindless process of technological evolution and economic expansion or by a conscious adoption of guiding moral precepts? Progress is meaningless if we don’t know where we’re going. Unless we try to visualize what is beyond the horizon, we will always occupy the same shore.”

46 Imagine… If not you… who?

47 If we don’t play God, who will? – James Watson

48 With great power, comes great responsibility. – Uncle Ben to Peter Parker in Spider-Man

49 Sources Bulger, Ruth Ellen. (2002). The scientist in society. In the Ethical Dimensions of the Biological and Health Sciences, 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press, Weigmann, Katrin. (2001). In the name of science. EMBO reports 2, Breithaupt, Holger, & Hadley, Caroline. (2005). Interview with Arthur Caplan, building stairs into slippery slopes. EMBO reports 6, Bethe, H. (1983). The ethical responsibilities of scientists: weapons development rather than military research poses the most difficult questions. The Center Magazine, 16(5); 2-5.


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