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The Pursuit Of Knowledge At The Cost Of Ethics

1175 words - 5 pages

Samuel AmmermanMr. LeeTheory Of Knowledge5/14/14Ethics and SocietyWhen stem cell research funding was revoked by George W. Bush scholars, scientists and patients around the world cried out, there was an untold amount of potential knowledge and treatment being lost. At the basis of George W. Bush's decision was his own concept of ethics. Ethics are constantly evolving and they are the accepted principles that govern our conduct a profession or interactions; put more informally ethics are a construct of the collective conscious of any given society. As ethics are a construct of society across the globe there are different ethical codes in existence. Ethics are most often used to determine the morality of a given topic; to determine if the topic is acceptable to a specific society. For instance what is acceptable for teens to view in cinema is very different than what a toddler can view in a cinema. If a topic is found to be objectionable then it is not uncommon for the topic to be censored in part or as a whole. In the instance of the arts many works are censored rather than banned, or the distribution of a material is limited to specific regions. Ethical judgements do limit the production of knowledge in the arts and natural sciences due to the heavy reliance of emotion and faith when making ethical judgements.If seeing is believing and knowledge is a justified true belief, then when images are censored we lose knowledge. Whereas photography is a form of the arts that gives knowledge, whenever a photograph is censored knowledge is lost. Photographs are most commonly censored as a result of the photo inciting an emotional response or when the photo is perceived to be offensive to someones religion. For instance in 1991 Photographer Ken Jarecke, who was in the Gulf War, took a picture of an incarcerated Iraqi soldier. When the photo reached the AP office in New York the image was deemed to be harmful to the human psyche as it was perceived to be too graphic. However, the photo was seen in other places of the world such as the UK; within the UK the photo incited debate and changed many peoples opinions of the Gulf War. This photo led to the changing beliefs of thousands; if not for United States censorship it could have changed the face of United States foreign policy.Censorship is of course not limited to photography, as books are commonly censored as well. A prime example of attempts made to censor books is Charles Darwin Origin Of Species. When the book was published in 1859 Pope Pius IX denounced the book going as far to say "no possibility of reconciliation between the Church and modern society". The book was very clearly in opposition to the Pope's faith and as such he rejected its entire premise. Evolutionary theory as outlined by Charles Darwin would not be accepted by the church until 1878. It is unknown how much knowledge was unable to be synthesised as a result of this censorship, but it is certainly a just assumption to conclude that some...

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