Needed: New Vision for Science
A survey of nearly 1000 scientists, doctors and engineers, backed up by in-depth interviews conducted by the London based Scientists Against Nuclear Arms (SANA) in 1990 revealed an unsuspected range of ethical problems and dilemmas experienced during the respondents' careers. The key points were identified as follows:
- Young scientists and engineers lack awareness of the relevance or even existence of a moral dimension to their work and its meaning for the fate of the world.
- Young scientists and engineers need advice regarding career choices and their longer-term implications.
- Once confronted with dilemmas, many people seek and often do not find a knowledgeable person to talk to -- a mentor or an organization which could provide sympathetic counseling.
- Most universities lack any form of decision-making body to discuss or consider important strategic and ethical issues (for example: military funded research, work upon genetically modified organisms, the human genome project, intellectual property rights, freedom of information) and thus to develop an enlightened consensus on proper directions for scientific research. Current work is almost totally directed by grants. A national body to advise on ethics of scientific research is also needed.
- Science policy in the United Kingdom is not directed in an objective way towards the solution of social and environmental problems, but largely serves vested interests, including pharmaceutical companies and a powerful military lobby. A new vision for science is urgently needed.
Initiatives arising from these concerns include a career guide, a mentors index, a counseling network, a university ethical committee structure, and the publication of a vision for science.
For more information contact Scientists for Global Responsibility, Kate Maloney, Unit 3, Down House, the Business Village, Broomhill Road, London SW18 4JQ, UK. tel: 081-871-5175.