Scientists and Their Responsibility

Scientists and Their Responsibility

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Shea, William R., and Beat Sitter, eds., 1989, xii + 348pp., Illus.

As we enter the last decade of the twentieth century, the importance and the ambiguity of scientific development is thrust more and more to the fore of contemporary discussions about the future of our society, and of civilization as we know it. Where will science take us if its steps are not guided? How much technological know-how on values that we consider essential to the quality of life, such as democracy, informed consent, just distribution of resources, access for information, and privacy?

With the help of science, we have achieved spectacular progress in the fields of public health, transportation, and communications. but the price for this rapid and dramatic change in man's relation to nature is only now becoming fully apparent. Have we moved so fast that we have endangered our ability of sustained growth? Not all developments can be labeled progress, and we are increasingly aware that every scientific or technological innovation brings fresh problems. We all have a right, and scientists have the duty, to try and determine what is being wrought by science and how we can use our knowledge to enhance the future of our species.

The stimulating and provocative essays in this book are written by scientists, philosophers, physicians, lawyers, engineers and theologians. They write from a variety of viewpoints, but with the same concern for the problem of responsibility that confronts the individual researcher, the institutions that support him, and the state that defrays the cost. there is no dogmatism here but an appraisal of facts; a call not to shirk our personal and collective responsibility.