Freedom and Responsibility: An Ethical

Science has become a dominant facet of modern society and has to a large extent replaced the guiding role of religion. Therefore, science has a great responsibility to ensure that research freedom is not irresponsibly applied. This has resulted in numerous debates on subjects such as science and the environment and modern cloning. This in turn has raised the question whether scientific freedom is always ethical. There is a view from many quarters that science is in fact an ethically neutral and that scientific freedom does not come with social or ethical responsibilities. (Tielman)

This aspect is also discussed in an article by Fenstad, entitled, Science between freedom and responsibility (2003) in this article the author argues against the view of scientific neutrality and asserts that modern science cannot avoid its ethical responsibilities. “Previously, science was the problem solver. Now science came to be seen as a major source of the problems. We have seen a shift from issues of freedom and trust to questions of responsibility and accountability.” (Fenstad 407)

There are many other examples that could be discussed; such as the ethical problems that face the fishing industry. On the one hand this industry has the freedom to pursue its activities at will. However, this freedom is tempered by the fact that it also has a responsibility to the environment and has to consider and the possibility of an unsustainable reduction of the oceans resources. The “…major moral imperative in fisheries is to avoid overexploitation and ensure resource conservation in a just and sustainable manner, enhancing peoples well-being. ” (an ethical analysis of fisheries)

In conclusion, the above analysis of freedom and responsibility in an ethical context raises a wide range of issues and problems.

Ethics has to a large extent lost its religious support and validation and this has meant that the ethics of freedom has to be weighted against the need for responsible thought and action in a world where self – interest tends to dominate. However, many modern thinkers realize that in the final analysis freedom and responsibility are interdependent can be seen ethically as two sides of the same coin.

Works Cited

An ethical analysis of fisheries. October 19, 2008.

Bok, Hilary. Freedom and Responsibility. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998. Questia. 20 Oct. 2008.

Context of the Ethics Framework. 20 Oct. 2008.

Drazenovich, George. “Towards a Levinasian Understanding of Christian Ethics: Emmanuel Levinas and the Phenomenology of the Other.” Cross Currents Wntr 2005: 37+. Questia. 21 Oct. 2008

Ethics. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. October 19, 2008.

Fenstad, J. Science between freedom and responsibility (2003) European

Review, Vol. 11; pp. 11: 407-416, 2003.

Sardar, Ziauddin. “The Ethics of Responsibility: For Life to Have Meaning, We Need to Stop Pursuing Our Own Interests and Learn to Share. Giving Is What Makes Us Human. This Is a Message Common to All Religions, Writes Ziauddin Sardar.” New Statesman 9 Jan. 2006: 36+. Questia. 21 Oct. 2008

Solomon H. Origins of the ethical attitude.

Journal of Analytical Psychology;

Volume 46, No. 3, 2002,



Freedom of conscience, pluralism & tolerance. October 19,

Total Self-Determinism. October 19, 2008.


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