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“The possession of knowledge carries an ethical responsibility” Evaluate this claim.
“Knowledge is power.” “With great power, comes great responsibility”. These two quotes, the first attributed to an English philosopher, and the second most familiar as a quote from Spiderman, succinctly summarize the apparent link between knowledge and responsibility. (Hobbes)(Lee) If the possession of knowledge gives one great power, it would only seem natural that some type of ethical responsibility would come attached. This is a pertinent issue in the American justice system, for example, where simply being knowledgeable of a crime can result in harsh consequences. President Nixon discovered this when his failure to reveal what he knew about the Watergate Hotel break-in led to his resignation, despite not having committed the actual offense. Yet, it also seems impossible that every tiny bit of knowledge possessed by the myriad minds that inhabit the planet have responsibility on some level to either be shared or contained. Therefore, it is only in most cases that the possession of knowledge carries an ethical responsibility.
The possession of knowledge in the natural sciences generally carries an ethical responsibility the most often, due to the wide range of people it usually affects. This is mostly because knowledge in the natural sciences can save lives. For example, Louis Pasteur, a chemist and microbiologist, is responsible for discovering a method for killing disease-causing organisms in milk. By sharing his knowledge, he prevented people from getting sick. Therefore, it would seem unethical of him had he kept his knowledge to himself while aware it could have prevented illness. In this case, it would appear Pasteur had an ethical responsibility to share his knowledge. However, in history class last year, I learned about the atom bombs used during World War II. The development of this weapon was secret and operated under the code name,...