After considering the discussion in the last class with Dr. Dave McIlroy, there’s one idea that keeps coming to mind. Dr. McIlroy said that the difference between an ethical individual and a moral individual is that the ethical person knows what’s right and the moral person does what’s right. I don’t want to ague semantics; these designations could just as easily be the other way around. But, I think we can agree that there is a very big difference between knowing the good and doing the good. It is one thing for someone to believe that honesty is a positive trait, it is quite another for that same person to act and speak honestly in their daily life.
So, what is the true issue here? Is it that researchers don’t know what it ethical, or that they aren’t doing what is ethical? If scientists really don’t know the right thing to do, then requiring ethical courses for science majors may solve the problem. But, if we as a science community know the good and still don’t do it, then no amount of education is going to solve this problem. I do grant that ethical training would be valuable to better understand how to apply ethical principles in tough situation which have many facets. But, if we believe that more education will solve the problem, we are deceiving ourselves. The real question is how do we take the ethics we understand in our head, bring them down to our heart and then live them out in our lives. It is a change of character not a change of understanding which must take place in our universities, research centers and hospital.