The Ethics of Teaching and Scientific Research

By Sidney Hook; Paul Kurtz et al. | Go to book overview
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Wanted: A Rational Decision Procedure
for Value Conflicts in Science

Miro Todorovich

A few years ago, speaking to a dinner audience at the Stony Brook campus, physicist Max Dresden explained the reasons for his move to the East. He was attracted by its intellectual vigor, he said. The New York Times reaching the West Coast was full of excellent articles on science. Occasionally some of the descriptions of physics were really not up to par, but reports about developments in the field of chemistry or biology or medicine were in his opinion truly excellent. So he decided to move to Long Island in order to be closer to New York.Subsequently he has become somewhat perplexed Dresden continued - after talking to some biologists. They indicated that they found the Times articles on physics and chemistry excellent though reports dealing with their subject, biology, could stand some improvement.

This brief anecdote came vividly to my mind while listening to members from various disciplines discuss questions of professional ethics. Views expressed seem to be a function of distance from one's own field. There was often sweeping agreement about the shortcomings of others, their egocentric approaches, and their disregard of broader implications of their professional action. Conversely, with the exception of Judge Frankel, there was an equally sweeping consensus that one's own specialty is in fine shape but is usually poorly understood.

"Were the critics only willing to learn more about the field they criticize, they would probably have a quite different attitude." This


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