Biological Roots of Ethical Principles

  • Salvadore E. Luria


In his exciting if controversial book “Chance and Necessity,” Jacques Monod suggested that an important source of ethical values was what he called the “Ethics of Knowledge,” that is, the commitment to the scientific exploration of natural phenomena. This suggestion was made within the intellectual framework of an existential ethics that denies the existence of absolute, ultimate values. In this framework, values are not given but chosen, partly consciously, partly unconsciously, and are adhered to or modified or abandoned in the continuing effort of each individual to create a moral identity ‐‐ what we may call a moral self. In this light, the ethics of knowledge is the commitment to face factual reality as intelligently as possible ‐‐ essentially, the value of intellectual integrity.


Scientific Exploration Moral Identity Penal Code Prison Inmate Factual Reality 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Salvadore E. Luria
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biology, Center for Cancer ResearchMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyUSA

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