Natural Sciences (April 11-20 2017) BY: Keely Ash

AOK Natural Sciences

Group Members: Ayman, Rhea, Nina, Keely

Should there be ethical constraints on the pursuit of scientific knowledge?

In the pursuit of scientific knowledge, there must be ways to pursue more innovative ideas. However, ethical constraints impede their ability to pursue knowledge. For instance, if you are planning to deceive participants in your pursuit you must make them aware of that (either by signing a consent form or some other method). These ethical guidelines are in place to avoid undue harm to anyone that befalls it. The Placebo Effect has been widely known ever since Henry Beecher discovered this effect in World War II. The success of the treatment can only be attributed to the patient’s belief in the treatment. However, once the patient is aware of the pseudo treatment the effects are no longer apparent. This technique may arouse ethical considerations due to the deception used in gathering the knowledge. However, if deception was not used then the knowledge gained from this study would not have been discovered. We may not have realised how strong the mind is if not for this. There should be ethical constraints on scientists and researchers to an extent so that they are not enclosed in a box in which they cannot pursue new scientific knowledge. The ethical constraints placed on them should be that no undue harm will befall on anyone or thing. For instance, if there is a less harmful way to test something then the researchers must do the less harmful way. Although ethical guidelines give researchers a harder time in their pursuits they are necessary.



I learned about the placebo effect and how it applies to empathy, the article was included in the list of prescribed titles. For instance, if you’re a doctor and you’re nice to the patient telling them that all will be well and they will be cured with this simple pill (even though it is fake but you don’t tell them that) then they are more likely to have a reaction compared to if the doctor just gave them the pill. I also learned about outliers. We talked about outliers in science and if these would be just a dirty test tube or the cure for cancer. It was a pretty interesting perspective on it.


The question I have to respond to is should there be ethical constraints on the pursuit of scientific knowledge? I was thinking about researching several case studies like Milgram's obedience studies or the Placebo Effect to get my point across in the paragraph. I want the paragraph to mainly be about the question and tie the real life situation back to the question, since I have had trouble with that in earlier assignments.


Should there be ethical constraints on the pursuit of scientific knowledge? is the question that our group decided upon. I think that there should be but to an extent. I don't think that the constraints that are put on the pursuit of scientific knowledge should be too constricting because it then closes off a whole portion of potential scientific knowledge that you're missing out on. However ethical constraints should be put in place to avoid any undue harm that may befall anyone, as always.


What is the source of the sense of right and wrong?

Are there some types of knowledge that should not be sought on ethical grounds?

I ran into these questions while researching my paragraph. Especially the first one intruiged me. I began wondering how we get our moral compass; internally? externally? Do we learn our sense of right and wrong or are we naturally born with it. Hopefully I will be able to explore this topic further in another Badge Project or even on my own time. I am excited to see where it will take me.

Extension Proposal for AOK Natural Sciences

The Science of Healing Thoughts

I believe that this article should be added to the ToK Badge Document under the AOK Natural Science prescribed titles. It was really interesting to me. It focused on how the mind affects the body like Placebo Effect's and other things.

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