Ethical Judgments Limit the Pursuit of Knowledge Essay

Ethical Judgments Limit the Pursuit of Knowledge Essay

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“The end justifies the means” is the famous quote of Machiavelli (Viroli, 1998) which puts the emphasis of morality on the finale results rather than the actions undertaken to achieve them. Is this claim true in the field of the natural sciences? Whether atomic bombings, as a mean used to end World War II, justifies the death of civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki? What is moral limitation in the acquisition of knowledge in the natural sciences? How is art constrained by moral judgment? Is it applicable to various works of art? Oscar Wilde claimed that “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.” (Wilde, 1945). Does it mean that writers should have complete freedom? Or should ethical considerations limit what they say and how they say it?
This essay will show that ethical considerations do limit the production of knowledge in both art and natural sciences and that such kind of limitations are present to a higher extent in the natural sciences.
Ethical judgment is reasoning about the possible alternatives in a situation and judging which alternative is the most ethical one. A person making an ethical judgment uses reason to decide what is the best alternative to resolve one problem or to determine that one alternative is morally right and another alternative morally wrong. In short, ethical judgment is a process of considering several alternatives and choosing the most ethical one.
In the natural sciences there are always ethical norms that limit how knowledge can be produced. In the natural sciences, experimentation is an important method of producing knowledge but ethical judgments can limit the use of this method. There are areas that are considered unethical ...


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.... Kieran, M. (2008, January 28). Art, censorship and morality. Open Learn, the Open University. Retrieved January 5, 2014 from http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/culture/philosophy/art-censorship-and-morality
3. Mother and child devided. (n.d.). Astrup Fearnley Museet. Retrieved January 5, 2014 from http://afmuseet.no/en/samlingen/utvalgte-kunstnere/h/damien-hirst/mother-and-child-divided
4. van de Lagemaat, R. (2011) Theory of knowledge for the IB diploma, Cambridge University Press.
5. Viroli, M. (1998) Machiavelli, London, Oxford University Press, retrieved January 3, 2014 from http://www.questia.com/read/23271960?title=Machiavelli
6. Wilde, O. (1945). The picture of Dorian Gray. The Electronic Classics Series, The Pennsylvania State University. p. 3/ Retrieved January 3, 2014 from http://www2.hn.psu.edu/faculty/jmanis/oscar-wilde/dorian-gray.pdf

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