Ethics and Development of Science, Essay Example
From the time of Hippocrates’ liberation of medicine from superstition and magic of modern development such as Watson and Crick’s discovery of the double helix, the progress of science has been one characterized by difficulties and struggle. One of the central arenas in which this struggle transpires has been and continues to concern the complex ethical issues which arise both within science and the clinical applications of that science. Medical ethics has developed as a specialized sub-field within the broader scope of modern ethics. In fact, it seems clear that the basic motivation behind medicine is itself a matter of ethics, working out of and giving expression to come of a culture’s most lofty ideals, such as helping the weak, the frail, and the sick.
There is always a difference between the development of the theoretical side of a science and its application. It is true from any branch of science that the closer the combination of development and application, the better. In other words, science will be most effective when scientists are free to determine their own research directions and agenda. Consequently, scientists decide on the aims of their research, the methods, and the research materials. In the case of human experimentation, these materials are the human subjects from the particular subject population being investigated. Scientists also asses the evidence and interpret it within their preferred theoretical framework.
However, this freedom to experiment is not absolute. It is also accepted that society has a duty to protect its citizens from potential harm. Atrocities committed by doctors and researchers on prisoners during the Second World War, and experiments conducted at other times, in the name of science, have shown some researchers are capable of a callous disregard for the welfare of their human subjects. As a result, the freedom of scientists to experiments on human subjects has been limited by the need to justify their research on ethical grounds. There are now national and international codes of ethics which set out some parameters for what constitutes ethical research.
The development of Chemistry
Chemistry, like other sciences, was born in the process of man’s practical activities. In winning his means of existence man gradually came to know the causes of various phenomena and found practical applications for certain transformation of substances. Thousands of years ago people already knew how to obtain many useful materials. They knew how to smelt metals from their ores, produce and utilize various alloys, manufacture glass and glassware.
In Egypt, technically the most advanced country, many trades based on the use of chemical processes flourished long before. The Egyptians smelted iron from its ores, produced stained glass, knew how to tan leather, extract medicines, dyes and perfumes from plants, etc.
Some 3500 year-old copper utensils and other items were found during excavations in Egypt and Mesopotamia (modern Iraq). These findings support the theory that copper was the next element invented after gold. After copper, tin was invented at a later stage in the history. Tin as an alloy was in used around 300 B. C. in Egypt. Archaeological excavations in Egypt have yielded a tin bouquet of 1200 B. C. A tin finger-ring and a bottle belonging to roughly 1580-1350 B. C. were also obtained from a grave in Egypt. These items were the oldest among articles made of tin.
Bronze, a combination of tin and copper, was used by ancestors to cast idols, utensils, ornaments, implements and weapons. The Bronze Age started in Egypt around 2500 B. C. During excavations in Egypt and in Ur (Mesopotamia), bronze utensils and weapons of 3000 B.C. and 3300 B. C. respectively were discovered. Ur was the center of the ancient Sumerian civilization.
Scientists for many years, as J. R. Dahn et al (590) point out, have been trying to optimize the relationship between structure and electrochemical properties and develop a material with better performance. Unfortunately, most of the carbons, especially non-graphic ones, are difficult to characterize, and moreover, most pryolytic carbons are heterogeneous and complex in nature (Dahn et al 590). These roadblocks have hindered our understanding of the chemistry that is responsible for their performance.
Dahn, J. R., Tao Zheng, Yinghu Liu, and J.S. Xue. Science, 270, 590. 1995. Print.
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