Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Scientists and the ethics of uranium and nuclear weapons

Considering Australia, he argues, is a country with abundant uranium reserves, our scientists should refrain from activities that have the potential to indirectly aid the production of nuclear weapons

The Responsible Scientist: A Philosophical Inquiry, Eureka: Ethics Research, Australian Museum, December 2010, WINNER – The Responsible Scientist Setting a Moral Compass for Scientists As atomic bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the final stages of World War II in 1945, the world witnessed the devastation that science could inflict on humankind.Since that moment, countries around the world have been called to account on their nuclear weapons programs. But what responsibility rests on the shoulders of the scientists who make such grand-scale destruction possible?

Dr John Forge, Research Associate at the Unit for History and Philosophy of Science at The University of Sydney, argues that scientists do carry a moral obligation for their research, whether they are engaged in applied or pure science and where the end use is unknown.

The 2010 Australian Catholic University Eureka Prize for Research in Ethics has been awarded to Dr Forge for his research culminating in The Responsible Scientist: A Philosophical Inquiry, a book which examines the social, moral and legal responsibilities faced by scientists across all areas of scientific enquiry.

Science often treats the whole question of ethics as an inward-looking concern, as if we need only to ensure that the research methodology is above reproach, rather than looking to the ramifications of the work. Dr Forge’s book will help to change this introspection.

In his writings, Dr Forge lists two key tenets in a scientist’s ethical responsibilities. The first of these he describes as the ‘two-tiered view’. The ‘first tier’ requires that scientists do not provide the means to harm; the ‘second tier’ encourages scientists to provide the means to prevent harm.

Considering Australia, he argues, is a country with abundant uranium reserves, our scientists should refrain from activities that have the potential to indirectly aid the production of nuclear weapons (first tier). Equally, as the burning of Australian coal results in a disproportionate contribution to pollution and global warming, he urges our scientists to seek alternative energy sources (second tier).

His second approach is that of the ‘wide view’. The argument suggests that all science has implications for society and there is a requirement for scientists to take heed of such possibilities. Scientists are responsible for practical outcomes, whether they intended them, foresaw them or should have foreseen these outcomes. Eureka: Ethics Research

December 6, 2010 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, religion and ethics, Resources

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: