Does ethics speed up the progress of science or slow it?

Author: Intelligence_06 ,

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  • Intelligence_06
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    There are cases for both, which one is it?
  • MisterChris
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    Traditionally, ethics has held back science.

    For example, biology and medicine as a science had a hard time progressing until the era of Enlightenment, simply because people were horrified at the thought of dissecting a human carcass. It took people to get down and dirty to uncover the mysteries of human biology, and they usually did it with great controversy. It is good that they did it anyway, as without them we would still be using leeches to treat a cold. 

    This is not to say that in every case we should choose science over traditional ethics, this is just to say that in the past, ethics has held back scientific progress for better or for worse.  However, we are coming upon a time now when we may start having to choose ethics over science (cloning, genetic modification, using a fetus for study, weapons of mass destruction) for the sake of preserving our morality and possibly our species as a whole. 


  • Ragnar
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    --> @MisterChris
    without them we would still be using leeches to treat a cold.
    To paraphrase the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster: Leeches were the best remedy. All the really common stuff they cured, stayed cured!
    🍝
  • MisterChris
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    --> @Ragnar
    True wisdom
  • triangle.128k
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    It does slow down the progress of science, but that's not inherently a bad thing. What good is the progress of science in itself? If ethics weren't taken into account, then science could advance into creating a transhumanist techno-dystopia that would eventually become unrecognizable and inhumane. A lack of ethics would also enable human experimentation, as such would provide vast benefits to scientific progress. 
  • Tradesecret
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    --> @Intelligence_06
    Does science have a speed? How many fields of science in the world exist today? How fast is any one moving? 

    And the next question ought to be - moving where? Moving to more understanding? Moving to a better outcome for people? Moving to what in particular? 

    Progress can move in lots of directions. So it might move fast somewhere - and then it might turn around and advance in a different direction. 

    Ethics in that sense is therefore an enabler - it enables progress to occur towards a particular direction. But does it prevent it? 

    And if it does prevent it - does it not just send it in another direction - progressing that way? 

    I liken it to the so called progressives in today's society. I think the progress of the Left is not progress at all. I think it is regress - a backwards movement. Yet - that is based upon my morality - or my ethics.  I think the progressives are simply heading as fast as they can to a great big ditch in history.  I would prefer that they did not. 

    So the question itself is based on many assumptions.  Present the assumptions and then perhaps we can discuss further. 
  • simplybeourselves
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    Neither, I would say.