Right and Wrong in the Conduct of Science
Science, in particular physics, is a collective enterprise and is so because it is, itself, 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? 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.
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