Previous Fora / 2005 / Programme

Knowledge Era and Norms of Science Ethics

Chinese Academy of Sciences, Dr.-Ing. Lu Yongxiang (Abstract, April 2005)

We are living in a stirring era rife with challenges. It is an era of peace, development and competition. In this era, multi-cultural exchange and ferment, social economy and culture are more prosperous than ever; science and technology are developing rapidly; the world is advancing towards informationization, gridification, globalization and knowledge driving; man.s cognition and creativity will be the only inexhaustible driving force; man will create and share knowledge, and jointly push forward the progress of human civilization; life styles and production manners based on scientific cognition and technological innovation will boost the harmonious development of human and nature; technological innovation will expand fresh development space for human in aerospace, ocean, deep earth, virtual cyberspace ,etc.; science ethics and science and technology development will bring man into a new stage of circular economy and sustainable development; nevertheless, man is facing new challenges; pressure from population, resources, ecology and environment is increasingly building; while pushing forward the progress of human civilization, science and technology poses a challenge to human ethics as well.

Since the birth of Modern Science, science has been posing a challenge to the existing ethics. Science ethics develops in tune with the advancement of science and civilization. Today.s rapid development of science and technology brings about fresh challenges to human.s existing ethics. Space science and technology, life science and technology, information technology, nano science and technology, and cognition science ,etc. raise new ethic issues to us, involving not only the right of life, but also complicated ethic issues, such as the right to privacy, personal identity, right and interest definition, relation of consanguinity,etc., which are hard to safeguard. Such ethic problems brought about by science and technology arise not only from science and technology itself, but the outcome of improper use of science and technology; therefore, we should by no means slow down or stop the development of science and technology just because science and technology poses a challenge to the existing ethics.

We should base on the characteristics of this era to establish the new fundamental norms of science ethics, including respecting and protecting life (both human and nonhuman); respecting and protecting human rights (both present and future generations); protecting ecoenvironment (the earth and the outer space, present and future); following the principles of fairness in gender, ethnic group and individual as well as in competition, cooperation and development; adhering to the principles of sharing natural resources and knowledge; stressing the principles of the forward-looking and preventability of science ethics. Nevertheless, we should establish new behavior norms for scientists. Nowadays, scientists have assumed the dual responsibility of advancing and innovating science and technology and pushing forward social ethics, so they should abide by the fundamental norms of science ethics and insist that science and knowledge should bring benefits to mankind. Scientists should also have the responsibility to undertake reasonable criticism and self-examination as well as research on science ethics. The world.s scientific and technological circle should promote the exchange and cooperation and forge a consensus in science ethics and shoulder the responsibility of education and dissemination of science ethics.