IB Theory of Knowledge Essay
May 2014 Prescribed Title no. 1
Ethical judgements limit the methods available in the production of knowledge in both the arts and the natural sciences. Discuss.
Word Count : 1127
Ethical judgements limit the methods available in the production of knowledge in both the arts and the natural sciences. In the natural sciences, methods such as life threatening experiments on humans are banned due to the fact that people consider it unethical to kill other human beings for the sake of an experiment. Ethical restrictions also protect the human rights of many human test subjects. The downside of ethical restrictions is that it limits us from actually learning more about a specific topic in the natural sciences. Downsides of ethical restrictions also occur in the arts. Nudity and gore are usually left untouched when we talk about what is considered ethical in art, but a percentage of the world’s population would accept these two topics as a form of selfexpression. If they are banned due to ethical judgement, this would limit the knowledge we learn from other individuals, and their way of expressing themselves. Even though there are limitations due to ethical judgements, it also helps to censor art that are deliberately vulgar.
Doing life threatening research on humans is considered unethical because human life is considered precious and valuable. Since we cannot perform life threatening experiments on humans, we end up doing it on animals such as rats and rabbits. This limits the knowledge we gain about humans, because the anatomy and physiology of humans are nowhere near close to rodents. The medication that we have today are tested on rodents first, then it is tested on humans as a final product, but sometimes this can be bad because there is the placebo effect. A placebo is a simulated treatment for a disease intended to deceive the recipient. When a patient receives a placebo, they can perceive themselves as getting better, also called the placebo effect. The placebo effect is unreliable and can actually be life threatening because the placebo has a high chance of not working and letting the recipient die a horrible death.
For example, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study that ran from 1932 to 1972 is notorious for being an unethical medical experiment. They put at risk two hundred fifty poor African American men with Syphilis, when they chose to give them placebo treatment instead of the available cure which was Penicillin. By the end of the 40year experiment, only seventy four out of two hundred fifty recipients survived the disease. Not only did more than 50% of the recipients die, but their wife and children also got infected with Congenital Syphilis. Restricting this method of gaining knowledge limits us from learning from our mistakes. How will we ever improve if we do not make mistakes? If this tragic event did not occur, we may have never realized that using placebos would have such a horrible outcome. On the other hand, ethical restrictions can help to protect human lives. The death of over one hundred people during the Tuskegee Syphilis Study could have been avoided due to ethical restrictions, but no one was allowed to expose the course of the experiment during that time, which violates their human rights.
In the arts, many methods of creating art is considered unethical because of its contents. This limits us from learning from other individuals who want to get their point across. Selfexpression is in my opinion a very important way to gain knowledge from other people, because we not only learn about the other individual but we also reflect their opinions onto ourselves. Through various works of art, we gradually mold ourselves into who we are and that is all thanks to the selfexpression that artists try to show in their work. For example, Piero ...
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