Precepts to use in everyday life

1. Think for yourself, 2. Be yourself, 3. Speak up, 4. Feel free to agree and disagree, 5. Be honest with yourself and others, 6. Be open-minded, 7. Avoid being judgmental and 8. Question everything - even your own thinking.

TOK Essay Titles May 2018

Thursday, February 7, 2013

ToK Essay Prescribed Titles (May 2013): Question 3

"The possession of knowledge carries an ethical responsibility." Evaluate this claim.


From wormholes to crossing moral lines to a philosophy of action... 

Perhaps the most important example to consider in relation to this Q is the case of the great physicist Oppenheimer, who was quoted in the sci-fi series 'Fringe' (S02.ep15, 'Peter').

Walter is discussing the possibility of opening a portal between alternative universes, but his assistant, Carla Warren, is anxious. The dialogue goes something like this:

CARLA WARREN: No, Walter, I mean you can't. Shattering the wall between universes would rupture the fundamental constants of nature.

WALTER: It's a theory. We don't know that to be true.

CARLA WARREN: It's a good theory. It is why we have been lying to the military, telling them it's impossible. Walter, there has to be a line somewhere. There has to be a line we can't cross.

WALTER: I always considered you as a scientist, Doctor Warren... despite your personal needs for religious claptrap. I see I was wrong.

CARLA WARREN: "I am become death, Destroyer of worlds."

WALTER: Don't you quote Oppenheimer to me.

CARLA WARREN: Knowledge cannot be pursued without morality.

WALTER: You sound like a pious sanctimonious Southern Preacher!

CARLA WARREN: I may go to church every Sunday, Walter, but I also have three degrees in theoretical physics, and I am telling you you cannot do this. We both know the amount of energy required to create a portal will forever ruin both universes. For the sake of one life, you will destroy the world. Some things are not ours to tamper with. Some things are God's.

WALTER: My son is dying, Doctor Warren. I will not allow that to happen again. There's only room for one God in this lab, and it's not yours............-- that will be all!

Recognise Warren's lines about KNOWLEDGE? Follow the connection to Oppenheimer and what he thought about scientific progress and the moral responsibility of scientists and remember that he was fond of quoting from the 'Bhagavad Gita'...

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