Tok Essay

Topics: Ethics, Nuclear weapon, Immanuel Kant Pages: 4 (1219 words) Published: January 30, 2013
Is the possession of knowledge enough to place an ethical responsibility on the knower? My thesis is that knowledge in itself is value free and ethical responsibility is created by the value judgment of the knower. If the knower has decided to follow a code of ethics or interprets a piece of knowledge to contain moral dimensions, then knowing creates ethical responsibilities. However, possessing knowledge as such does not automatically create ethical responsibilities. In the following I will explore the issue in greater detail in light of examples from different areas of knowledge. I will also consider how ways of knowing and my personal experiences as a knower are relevant to the topic. Ethical responsibilities may be created by professional duties and shaped cultural context. For example, people working in healthcare must promise to keep patients’ information confidential to protect their privacy. Consequently, knowledge about the patients carries an ethical responsibility for the people working in healthcare. However, ideas regarding right and wrong change over time. Homosexuality, for example, was acceptable the Ancient Greece, but in the 19th century England it was regarded an abnormal deviation and a crime. Thus, historical and cultural context shape people’s value judgments and perception of ethical responsibilities. Possessing knowledge may lead to ethical responsibilities also based on why knowledge is created and how it is used. Most would condemn a research project to create a biological weapon based on the poliovirus and approve the research project if it was to develop a vaccine. Most would also condemn a research project aiming to use the existing knowledge of the poliovirus to create a biological weapon. Consequently, the motivation for knowing and intention to use knowledge can create ethical responsibilities. In 1940s Robert Oppenheimer led the project to develop the first atomic bomb. When he witnessed the first detonation in New Mexico, he...
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