SOME REMARKS ON THE ETHICS OF A SCIENTIFIC WORKER
That there is an observable increase of public interest in problems of professional ethics as well as in the specific ethic of the profession of scientific worker, is an incontestable fact. There is a visible endeavour to create a set of principles defining the moral duties of the profession of scientific worker, different groups giving the problem their particular different treatments.
The question arises whether it is possible to verify the validity of a given code of principles held as the ethics of a given profession. The article gives the grounds of one such attempt at verification by tracing the relation between a given set of norms and the social function of the respective professions. In this connection it is also stated that the norms of professional ethics are instrumental rather than axiological in character. Norms of professional ethics must not be made too specific. The article criticizes the tendency to multiply the number of different professional ethics, arguing that such specialized ethics are indispensable only in the case of such kinds of professions as fall und er the following two heads: one, professions which for all practical purposes are not subject to public inspection and where the workers are consequently left maximum freedom to make their own independent decisions; and secondly, that the actual performance of professional work involves what is considered the highest aims.
In the world of today the function of a scientific worker is infinitely more comprehensive than the mere providing of maximum true knowledge about reality. For that reason, although truth is the highest aim in the considerations of a scientific worker’s professional ethics, it is nevertheless not to be regarded as the only one.
When passing from individual to group research in contemporary science, the scope of the worker’s professional ethics is certainly widened, to embrace all the norms of general social morality applicable to the regulation of ordinary mutual relations in any institution employing a number of workers.
There must exist a specific variation of professional ethics for the scientific worker in the field of the ethical sciences. It consists in that when dealing with descriptive ethics or the science of morality, the ethicist is subject to the rules and requirements imposed by the professional ethics for a scientific worker whereas when dealing with normative ethics he must obey the professional morality required of a teacher.
What determines whether or not the requirements of the ethical code for a scientific worker are duly fulfilled, is, in the first place, the actual organization of the science in question as well as the psychological climate accompanying it and the social conditions attendant upon the research and pedagogical work. However, the didactic effects of a proper formulation of the professional ethics for a scientific worker must not be underestimated either.