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Joseph Rotblat, the Physicist Who Left the Manhattan Project: a Biography of Scientific Responsibility

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Joseph Rotblat (1908-2005) was the only physicist to leave the Manhattan Project for moral reasons before its completion. He would spend the rest of his life advocating for nuclear disarmament. His activities for disarmament resulted in the formation, in 1957,

Joseph Rotblat (1908-2005) was the only physicist to leave the Manhattan Project for moral reasons before its completion. He would spend the rest of his life advocating for nuclear disarmament. His activities for disarmament resulted in the formation, in 1957, of the Pugwash conferences, which emerged as the leading global forum to advance limits on nuclear weapons during the Cold War. Rotblat's efforts, and the activities of Pugwash, resulted in both being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995. Rotblat is a central figure in the global history of resistance to the spread of nuclear weapons. He also was an important figure in the emergence, after World War II, of a counter-movement to introduce new social justifications for scientific research and new models for ethics and professionalism among scientists. Rotblat embodies the power of the individual scientist to say "no" and thus, at least individually, put limits of conscience on his or her scientific activity. This paper explores the political and ethical choices scientists make as part of their effort to behave responsibly and to influence the outcomes of their work. By analyzing three phases of Rotblat's life, I demonstrate how he pursued his ideal of beneficial science, or science that appears to benefit humanity. The three phases are: (1) his decision to leave the Manhattan Project in 1944, (2) his role in the creation of Pugwash in 1957 and his role in the rise of the organization into international prominence and (3) his winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995. These three phases of Rotblat's life provide a singular window of the history of nuclear weapons and the international movement for scientific responsibility in the 50 years since the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. While this paper does not provide a complete picture of Rotblat's life and times, I argue that his experiences shed important light on the difficult question of the individual responsibility of scientists.

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2015-05

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Ethics of Life Extension Technology

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The prospect of anti-aging or life extension technology is controversial in biogerentology but deemed even by skeptical experts to warrant discussion. I discuss the justifications that the probability of life extension technology being developed in the near future is reasonably

The prospect of anti-aging or life extension technology is controversial in biogerentology but deemed even by skeptical experts to warrant discussion. I discuss the justifications that the probability of life extension technology being developed in the near future is reasonably high and that this research justifies the time and money it receives. I investigate potential ethical and societal issues anti-aging technology might create. This paper addresses inequality of access, economic cost, changes in quality of life, the role of death in human life, if and how the technology should be regulated and how parties who choose not to undergo treatment can be fairly treated, even when they are a minority.

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2015-05

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The Ethics of Keeping Large Felids in Zoos

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This thesis aims to address the ethics of keeping the big cats, such as lions, tigers, and leopards, in zoos. It is a practice that has generated some controversy in light of scientific studies reporting stress among wide-ranging animals in

This thesis aims to address the ethics of keeping the big cats, such as lions, tigers, and leopards, in zoos. It is a practice that has generated some controversy in light of scientific studies reporting stress among wide-ranging animals in captive enclosures, as well as in the context of wider discussions in animal welfare and conservation ethics in zoos. A driving question for this project, therefore, was "What are the arguments for and against keeping large felids in zoos/captivity?" This thesis examines the historical and current ethical approaches to evaluating the ethics of maintaining big cats in zoos. Due to many of the big cat species listed as endangered species on the IUCN redlist, the species-centered approach to zoo ethics is becoming the common viewpoint, and, as a result, zoos are deemed ethical because of their contribution to ex situ conservation practices. Further, the ethical arguments against zoos are minimized when the zoos provide suitable and appropriate enclosures for their large felids. Of course, not all zoos are created equal; the ethics of zoos need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but in general, it is ethical to maintain big cats in zoos.

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2014-05