Ethics of Chemical Synthesis

Hyle 7 (2):103 - 124 (2001)

Abstract

Unlike other branches of science, the scientific products of synthetic chemistry are not only ideas but also new substances that change our material world, for the benefit or harm of living beings. This paper provides for the first time a systematical analysis of moral issues arising from chemical synthesis, based on concepts of responsibility and general morality. Topics include the questioning of moral neutrality of chemical synthesis as an end in itself, chemical weapons research, moral objections against improving material conditions of life by chemical means, and freedom of research. The paper aims at providing both a sound basis for moral judgements of chemistry in a public discourse and a framework for chemists to reflect on the moral relevance of their activity

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