chapter  14
29 Pages

Science and Technology

Modern scientific and technological advances move ahead at breakneck speed, and the ethics has to work hard to keep up. Just 50 years ago things that we take for granted such as test tube babies, microwave ovens, organ transplants were only just beginning to be thought of, and CCTV, iPhones and the ability to have our genome sequenced were still in the future. Science and technology have changed our world dramatically and in general we cope with the advances, but there are some scientific and technological changes that people find controversial and difficult to accept. The main problem areas used to include nuclear weapons, eugenics and experiments on animals, but recently the areas of contention have increased to cover much reproductive biology such as cloning, designer babies, stem cell research, human-animal hybrids and genetically modified organisms. Persuading people to accept some of these advances in science and technology shows up one vital difference in the way they see the world; it is only human to fear the unknown, but scientists spend their lives considering the possibilities and risks, so they tend never to say ‘never’. Science sees itself as morally neutral, but needs to be aware of its responsibility, and understand the reactions of ordinary people, and try and find some way round the so-called ‘yuck’ factor (the ‘Wisdom of Repugnance’).