NanoEthics

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 215–220 | Cite as

Speak No Evil: Scientists, Responsibility, and the Public Understanding of Science

Original Paper

Abstract

In this paper, I will discuss the responsibilities that scientists have for ensuring their work is interpreted correctly. I will argue that there are three good reasons for scientists to work to ensure the appropriate communication of their findings. First, I will argue that scientists have a general obligation to ensure scientific research is communicated properly based on the vulnerability of others to the misrepresentation of their work. Second, I will argue that scientists have a special obligation to do so because of the power we as a society invest in them as specialists and professionals. Finally, I will argue that scientists ought to ensure their work is interpreted correctly based on prudential, self-interested considerations. I will conclude by offering suggestions regarding policy considerations.

Keywords

Responsibility Applied ethics Ethics of science Ethics of technology Communication Vulnerability Science communication 

References

  1. 1.
    American Association for the Advancement of Science. AAAS R&D Funding Update. 20 March 2009. http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/FY2009update.pdf (accessed June 8, 2010)
  2. 2.
    Ball P (2006) Damning all nanomaterials would be damned silly. Nature News (16 October. Website: http://www.nature.com/news/2006/061016/full/news061016-6.html, Accessed: 2 September, 2010)
  3. 3.
    Bauer W, Petkova K, Boyadjieva P (2000) Public knowledge of and attitudes to science: alternative measures that may end the “science war”. Sci Technol Human Values 25(1):30–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Dawkins R (2008) The God delusion. Mariner BooksGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Fine C (2008) Will working mothers’ brains explode? The popular new genre of neurosexism. Neuroethics 1:69–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Goodin RE (1985a) Protecting the vulnerable: a re-analysis of our social responsibilities. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Goodin RE (1985b) Vulnerabilities and responsibilities: an ethical defense of the welfare state. Am Polit Sci Rev 79(3):775–787CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Hamilton C (2007) Scorcher: the dirty politics of climate change. Black Inc. Agenda, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Harris S (2005) The end of faith: religion, terror and the future of reason. W.W. Norton, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Kitcher P (2001) Science, truth and democracy. Oxford University Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Paull J, Lyons K (2008) Nanotechnology: the next challenge for organics. J Org Syst 3(1):3–22Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Miller S, Selgelid MJ (2008) Ethical and philosophical consideration of the dual-use dilemma in the biological sciences. Springer, DordechtCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Resnik DB, Shamoo AE (2005) Bioterrorism and the responsible conduct of biomedical research. Drug Dev Res 63:121–133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Revkin AC (2009) Hacked e-mail data prompts calls for changes in climate research. New York Times, 28 November: A8Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Selgelid MJ (2002) Societal decision making and the new eugenics. Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, GermanyGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Stringer D (2009) Hackers leak e-mails, stoke climate debate. Associated Press, 21 NovemberGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public EthicsAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

Personalised recommendations