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Science and Human Values

So while science alone cannot determine human values, it can certainly inform and influence them. As powerful technologies like artificial intelligence and genetic engineering advance, we will need to grapple with the ethical implications of scientific progress.

This means fostering dialogue and collaboration between scientists, ethicists, policymakers, and the public. It means acknowledging the ways in which science and values intersect, rather than pretending they are separate. Most of all, it means using our growing knowledge to make wise choices - for ourselves, for society, and for the planet.

Section: 1, Chapter: 3

Book: Homo Deus

Author: Yuval Noah Harari

Can Science Answer Ethical Questions?

One of the key claims of humanism is that science cannot answer ethical questions. Science can tell us how the world is, but it cannot tell us how it ought to be.

However, this distinction is not as clear-cut as it seems:

  1. Science is not value-free. The questions we choose to ask, the methods we use, and the way we interpret results are all shaped by our cultural and moral assumptions.
  2. Many ethical questions hinge on factual claims. For example, the debate around abortion often revolves around when a fetus becomes "human" - a biological question.
  3. As we learn more about the biological basis of human behavior, the line between facts and values is likely to blur further. If we can explain moral choices in terms of brain chemistry, does that make them less "moral"?

Section: 1, Chapter: 3

Book: Homo Deus

Author: Yuval Noah Harari

Ethics Must Guide Professions Like Law, Medicine, and Business

For tyranny to take hold, professionals must ignore or abandon their ethical codes and simply follow the orders of the regime. This was crucial in Nazi Germany, where lawyers provided cover for illegal orders, doctors participated in grotesque experiments, businessmen exploited slave labor, and civil servants enabled genocidal policies. If key professions had simply adhered to basic ethics around human rights and human dignity, the Nazi machine would have had a much harder time implementing its agenda. Professionals must consult their conscience and be guided by ethics even, and especially, when a regime claims the situation is an exception.

Section: 1, Chapter: 5

Book: On Tyranny

Author: Timothy Snyder

Books about Ethics

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