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Knowledge At MET

Knowledge At MET


Ethics are set of rules or standards each individual has, to govern their behaviour and to help them take decisions to do 'the right thing'. Different people with different values have different ideas about 'the right thing' for the society. There is no clear right or wrong position in ethics, as a person's individual experience and view of the world often guides the way they make ethical choices. A person with a strong environmental outlook might see the use of genetically modified (GM) plants as unnatural and a person with a strong scientific-based view of the world will see this as an extension of the traditional plant breeding technology.

Modern biotechnology is focused to make a better future for humans but in this process many scientists fear that the humanity may be gaining too much power to handle or too little choice over its destiny. As the biotechnological revolution continues, the associated ethical issues need to be identified, analysed and imported into the policy-making responsibilities of government.

Biotechnology has grown from the simple beer making process to what it is now. Since the birth of dolly the cloned sheep, the public has raised concerns related to the limit of biotechnology. The mantra of 'if we can, we inevitably will' places troubling limits on our critical thinking and moral obligations. As the biotechnology research is moving ahead at a rapid pace both the scientists and the common man has had the opportunity of asking the ethical unwelcomed consequences of future fields of biotechnology.

The science of ethics requires us to justify our intentions and actions. Ethics is all about asking questions. After a new innovation in biotechnology along with being excited about it many questions are raised like, What are the social and personal impacts of this technology?,How is this going to affect humanity in the future?, Does a particular application of biotechnology protect or endanger human or individual rights? Are the benefits and burdens distributed fairly? Does biotechnology advance or prevent the common good? What are the risks, burdens, and benefits? On whom do they fall? How are they distributed? What is an acceptable way to achieve a given benefit? May we do anything, as long as the outcome is good on balance? Or are there limits on what we do, even in the name of human health? And, what—or whom—have we not thought about?

So how do we a set standard to help us identify what is ethical?

With the end of an experiment we get the results which are in the form of facts, we can use these facts in a variety of ways. So the application of these facts is governed by ethics. The route from facts to ethics can be travelled by using following approach.

Utilitarianism - Utilitarianism is an ethical theory that states that the best action is the one that maximizes utility.In the utilitarian view, an ethical action is the one that produces the balance of good over harm or measures the good effects created by the technology and compare it to the bad effects. The utilitarian might argue that the potential benefit of relieving human suffering outweighs the possible dangers and side effects of manipulating human genes and evolution.

Rights- What makes human being more than just organism is the rights they can exercise freely. Human beings have the right to be not treated as just a mean to reach another end, even though the end is a very good one. Human beings have the right to be told the truth, the right to privacy, and the right not to be harmed. In this approach, actions that violate individual or human rights are wrong.

Justice- This approach revolves around the principle of "treating equals equally and unequals unequally."Consider two people running a 100 meter race. If both the runners reach the finish line at the same time then it is not fair that u honour one runner the gold medal unless the second runner has cheated.

The common good- In this approach we consider the benefit and interest of the whole society. This approach to ethics assumes a society comprising individuals whose own good is inextricably linked to the good of the community. Community members are bound by the pursuit of common values and goals.

A consideration of virtue- This approach considers the value of virtue each individual has. It assumes that certain ideals allow for the full development of our humanity. A person, who has inculcated these core ideals, or virtues, will do what is right when faced with an ethical choice.

These approaches and ideal questions that are supposed to be asked do not offer an easy and automatic solution to all ethical dilemmas. This framework of ethical approach helps us understand what is expected from us. Each of these approaches gives us key information about ethical options in a given situation but in the end we need to consider all the facts and options to take an appropriate decision in a given dilemma.


Maithili S. Pokle


Tags: MET Institute of Pharmacy