Ethics and science relationship

ethics and science relationship

Since then, ethics has become one of the major topics in Western philosophy when debating social and individual values, their relationship and their hierarchy . nects ethics to science and engineering, but it frames the relationship in a misleading way. Moral notions and practices inevitably influence and are influenced. The relationship between ethics and science has been discussed within the framework of continuity versus discontinuity theories, each of which.

The judges' chamber from the Nuremberg Trials. At the end of the war, 23 individuals were tried for war crimes in Nuremberg, Germany, in relation to these studies, and 15 were found guilty Figure 3. The court proceedings led to a set of guidelines, referred to as the Nuremberg Code, which limits research on human subjects. Among other things, the Nuremberg Code requires that individuals be informed of and consent to the research being conducted; the first standard reads, "The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.

Importantly, the code also places the responsibility for adhering to the code on "each individual who initiates, directs or engages in the experiment. The Nuremberg Code was published in and is still a fundamental document guiding ethical behavior in research on human subjects that has been supplemented by additional guidelines and standards in most countries. Other ethical principles also guide the practice of research on human subjects.

For example, a number of government funding sources limit or exclude funding for human cloning due to the ethical questions raised by the practice. Another set of ethical guidelines covers studies involving therapeutic drugs and devices. Research investigating the therapeutic properties of medical devices or drugs is stopped ahead of schedule if a treatment is found to have severe negative side effects.

Similarly, large-scale therapeutic studies in which a drug or agent is found to be highly beneficial may be concluded early so that the control patients those not receiving the effective drug or agent can be given the new, beneficial treatment.

Sometimes, however, the line between mistake and misconduct is not clear. For example, in the late s, a number of research groups were investigating the hypothesis that deuterium atoms could be forced to fuse together at room temperature, releasing tremendous amounts of energy in the process.

Nuclear fusion was not a new topic inbut researchers at the time were able to initiate fusion reactions only at very high temperatures, so low temperature fusion held great promise as an energy source. Two scientists at the University of Utah, Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann, were among those researching the topic, and they had constructed a system using a palladium electrode and deuterated water to investigate the potential for low temperature fusion reactions.

As they worked with their system, they noted excess amounts of heat being generated. Though not all of the data they collected was conclusive, they proposed that the heat was evidence for fusion occurring in their system.

Rather than repeat and publish their work so that others could confirm the results, Pons and Fleischmann were worried that another scientist might announce similar results soon and hoped to patent their invention, so they rushed to publicly announce their breakthrough.

On March 23,Pons and Fleischmann, with the support of their university, held a press conference to announce their discovery of "an inexhaustible source of energy. A cold fusion reactor cell from the naval research center. Pons and Fleischmann's premature announcement hurt legitimate research efforts in the field.

The announcement of Pons' and Fleischmann's "cold fusion" reactor Figure 4 caused immediate excitement in the press and was covered by major national and international news organizations.

Among scientists, their announcement was simultaneously hailed and criticized. On April 12, Pons received a standing ovation from about 7, chemists at the semi-annual meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Scientific Ethics

But many scientists chastised the researchers for announcing their discovery in the popular press rather than through the peer-reviewed literature. Pons and Fleischmann eventually did publish their findings in a scientific article Fleischmann et al. The researchers had a difficult time showing evidence for the production of neutrons by their systema characteristic that would have confirmed the occurrence of fusion reactions.

On May 1,at a dramatic meeting of the American Physical Society less than five weeks after the press conference in Utah, Steven Koonin, Nathan Lewis, and Charles Barnes from Caltech announced that they had replicated Pons and Fleischmann's experimental conditions, found numerous errors in the scientists' conclusions, and further announced that they found no evidence for fusion occurring in the system.

Soon after that, the US Department of Energy published a report that stated "the experimental results They eventually left the University of Utah to work as scientists in the industrial sector. Their mistakes, however, not only affected them but discredited the whole community of legitimate researchers investigating cold fusion.

Scientific Ethics | Process of Science | Visionlearning

The phrase "cold fusion" became synonymous with junk science, and federal funding in the field almost completely vanished overnight. It took almost 15 years of legitimate research and the renaming of their field from cold fusion to "low energy nuclear reactions" before the US Department of Energy again considered funding well-designed experiments in the field DOE SC, Comprehension Checkpoint When faulty research results from mistakes rather than deliberate fraud, a.

Everyday ethical decisions Scientists also face ethical decisions in more common ways and everyday circumstances. For example, authorship on research papers can raise questions.

ethics and science relationship

Authors on papers are expected to have materially contributed to the work in some way and have a responsibility to be familiar with and provide oversight of the work. Sometimes newcomers to a field will seek to add experienced scientists' names to papers or to grant proposals to increase the perceived importance of their work. While this can lead to valuable collaborations in science, if those senior authors simply accept "honorary" authorship and do not contribute to the work, it raises ethical issues over responsibility in research publishing.

ethics and science relationship

A scientist's source of funding can also potentially bias their work. While scientists generally acknowledge their funding sources in their papers, there have been a number of cases in which lack of adequate disclosure has raised concern.

For example, in Dr. Claudia Henschke, a radiologist at the Weill Cornell Medical College, published a paper that suggested that screening smokers and former smokers with CT chest scans could dramatically reduce the number of lung cancer deaths Henschke et al. However, Henschke failed to disclose that the foundation through which her research was funded was itself almost wholly funded by Liggett Tobacco. The case caused an outcry in the scientific community because of the potential bias toward trivializing the impact of lung cancer.

Almost two years later, Dr. Henschke published a correction in the journal that provided disclosure of the funding sources of the study Henschke, As a result of this and other cases, many journals instituted stricter requirements regarding disclosure of funding sources for published research.

Enforcing ethical standards A number of incidents have prompted the development of clear and legally enforceable ethical standards in science. When the study began, medical treatments available for syphilis were highly toxic and of questionable effectiveness.

Thus, the study sought to determine if patients with syphilis were better off receiving those dangerous treatments or not. The researchers recruited black men who had syphilis, and men without syphilis as a control.

Individuals enrolled in what eventually became known as the Tuskegee Syphilis Study were not asked to give their consent and were not informed of their diagnosis; instead they were told they had "bad blood" and could receive free medical treatment which often consisted of nothingrides to the clinic, meals, and burial insurance in case of death in return for participating.

Bypenicillin appeared to be an effective treatment for syphilis. However, rather than treat the infected participants with penicillin and close the study, the Tuskegee researchers withheld penicillin and information about the drug in the name of studying how syphilis spreads and kills its victims. The unconscionable study continued untilwhen a leak to the press resulted in a public outcry and its termination. By that time, however, 28 of the original participants had died of syphilis and another had died from medical complications related to syphilis.

Further, 40 wives of participants had been infected with syphilis, and 19 children had contracted the disease at birth. As a result, all institutions that receive federal research funding must establish and maintain an IRB, an independent board of trained researchers who review research plans that involve human subjects to assure that ethical standards are maintained.

An institution's IRB must approve any research with human subjects before it is initiated. Equally important, individual scientists enforce ethical standards in the profession by promoting open publication and presentation of methods and results that allow for other scientists to reproduce and validate their work and findings.

Federal government-based organizations like the National Academy of Sciences publish ethical guidelines for individuals. The US Office of Research Integrity also promotes ethics in research by monitoring institutional investigations of research misconduct and promoting education on the issue. Ethics in science are similar to ethics in our broader society: They promote reasonable conduct and effective cooperation between individuals.

While breaches of scientific ethics do occur, as they do in society in general, they are generally dealt with swiftly when identified and help us to understand the importance of ethical behavior in our professional practices. Adhering to the scientific ethic assures that data collected during research are reliable and that interpretations are reasonable and with merit, thus allowing the work of a scientist to become part of the growing body of scientific knowledge.

Summary Ethical standards are a critical part of scientific research. Through examples of scientific fraud, misconduct, and mistakes, this module makes clear how ethical standards help ensure the reliability of research results and the safety of research subjects.

The importance and consequences of integrity in the process of science are examined in detail.

Key Concepts Ethical conduct in science assures the reliability of research results and the safety of research subjects. Ethics in science include: Replication, collaboration, and peer review all help to minimize ethical breaches, and identify them when they do occur. Report of the review of low energy nuclear reactions. Department of Energy, Office of Science. Retrieved April 29,from http: Has Mendel's work been rediscovered? Facts Imagine a conversation between two people about, say, the ethical acceptability of doing research on primates which results in significant suffering of the primates.

ethics and science relationship

Suppose that the research results in the introduction of spinal tumors in the primates. Joe believes that such research is morally wrong under any circumstance, while Julia believes that such research is morally acceptable under certain circumstances.

Now, perhaps you have been in such an argument. Did you find yourself trying to convince the other person that your perspective was the better one? Were you convinced that your position was correct?

Of course you were! How did you try to convince the your opponent? Perhaps one of you used statistics -- that over 3 million animals die in the midst of human technological experimentation, or that primates display very complex social behaviors, indicating a level of intelligence that rivals young human children. If you ever have used statistics in your moral discussions with people, then you have appealed to "facts" to make your case. But wait a minute -- that's what scientists do.

Are facts, then, sometimes relevant to establishing moral responsibilities? Are there empirical realities which can provide a sort of evidence for the superiority of one moral position over another?

These fanatics are not conservatives. Robert Taft was a conservative. These Neanderthals are not Christians.