• Question: Do you think that, in the name of science and progress, scientists can do whatever they want to do or is there a limit?

    Asked by P-Brain to Rob, Marikka on 13 Nov 2014.
    • Photo: Robert Hampson

      Robert Hampson answered on 13 Nov 2014:

      There is definitely a limit!

      The words “progress” and “science” have already been used to try to justify all kinds of evil and atrocities. Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Russia both performed awful experiments on people they viewed as inferior and this evil perpetrated is simply not justified by the knowledge gained. Once we have that knowledge available, there is still a moral dilemna. Should modern day scientists use the data generated by immoral experiments? Just because an experiment in immoral doesn’t make it incorrect, and by using the data are we honouring the participants suffering or ignoring it?

      In many areas, there is some careful thinking which needs to be applied. Testing on animals undoubtedly produces stress, pain, death, and suffering all of which are bad. However, we do them because we way this small amount of suffering against the potentially massive improvement in global health. If at any point, the stress, suffering, pain of the animal outweighs the potential gain surely we shouldn’t still be testing on animals…

      If we are willing to discard our morality on the altars of “science” and “progress”, then surely all the things which we will choose to use that “science” and “progress” for will be evil…?

    • Photo: Marikka Beecroft

      Marikka Beecroft answered on 14 Nov 2014:

      Hmmm… Very interesting and very difficult question but I do believe we need limits and rules.

      Before there was ethic committees and regulations on science, some scientists would do anything to get a discovery, even if it meant harming another human being. The problem is these discoveries in science has given so much understanding and we still use those discoveries today. All in the name of science.

      Rob has mentioned it in his answer about Nazi scientists they did horrific things but they also gave us our knowledge about how fetuses develop during pregnancy. Which has saved so many babies lives and mothers. It was done however by taking an unborn child out of their mother and experimenting on them.

      We continue to use this information today in midwifery and no one has questioned where this information has come from. Today I feel that we don’t need to do this, our technology is more advanced and we have more repercussions when it comes to doing something wrong and I think that’s a good thing so atrocities like theses don’t happen again.