Ethical judgments limit the methods available in the production of knowledge in both the arts and the natural sciences. Discuss.  

Was human experimentation on concentration to camp detainees vital in allowing evolution of thought? Is it ethical to have “pornographic” art on display at a public gallery where children go? Today I will be using the contrasting area of knowledge such as the arts and the natural sciences using perception and emotion as my ways of knowing. I will be addressing that perhaps ethical standards are necessary in preventing catastrophes in society but such standards should only limit the application not the production of knowledge.


  • Introduction (Above)
  • How ethical judgements limit the methods available in the production of knowledge in the arts followed by at least 2 examples

-Galileo believed that the earth revolved around the sun

-Censorship of “pornographic” art

-Musical creativity banned because of political messages

(Agreements are not universal)

  • Where ethical judgements do not limit the production of knowledge in the arts
  • (On the other hand…) How ethical judgements limit the methods available in the production of knowledge in the natural sciences followed by at least 2 examples

-Stem cell research, genetic modification and cloning- using aborted fetuses to research on illnesses

-Illegal organ smuggling in China

-Testing in Africa of HIV drugs

-Human experimentation on concentration camp detainees

(Agreements are usually universal)

  • Where ethical judgements do not limit the production of knowledge in natural sciences
  • Conclusion: Argue that ethical considerations should only limit the application, not the production of knowledge.



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Function of Music

To me, music is something I listen to to pass time, for instance, if I’m on public transport, or doing work. Many of my favourite pieces of music relate to me on many different levels, and suit my mood at that current moment in time. When I listen to one of my favourite songs, it takes me back to the past and to me, nothing else matters at that time.

What is the Function of Music (Discussion)


-Music can have medicinal values

-Expression of feelings for artists

-To get through to the public, by sending a message across

-You can relate to music and its lyrics and relate it to the situation you are either presently going through or were going through

-When you are depressed, it helps you get through it

-Relieves work stress

-To inspire

-To unite people

-They evoke emotions

-Tell a story – communicate

-To give identity

-When you can not express yourself, music is a form of self expression

-Music gives meaning

-Music motivates us and invokes happiness

-You can escape from the real world for a short while and transform into your own little bubble

-Vent emotions


-Music can be expressed beyond language 

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All whaling and the killing of cetaceans should not be banned under international law:


–  Indigenous people rely on whales for food and other materials for survival, for example the fat from the whales can be used as fuel for fire, which is an alternative to cutting down trees and causing deforestation. The amount of things we create from using whale parts are endless, piano keys, buttons, tennis racquets, crayons, candles… the list goes on.

– Whaling Essential for commerce and a country’s economy. E.g. Japan or China where whaling is a huge industry, and improves the cash inflow of a system.

– If whale populations are monitored carefully, it is fully possible for whales to be sustainably harvested for resources. Norway, for instance, has agreed to and implemented an inspection scheme, which has provided for inspectors on board every whaling vessel. 

– As there are different breeds or species of whales, they compete with each other for food, however, smaller whales species are more numerous, and will eventually cause the larger in size whale populations to diminish, and possibly extinct. Specified whaling targets these smaller species, allowing the larger whales to survive.

– Whales provide a heavy predatory pressure on commercial fishing breeds of fish, and left unchecked, populations of fish would decrease, forcing humans to find other sources of food, some of which may be even less ethical than hunting whales.

-Sustain cultures in countries such as Japan, where whale meat is a vital part of their culture. Its the same as asking Australia to stop eating kangaroos. We don’t have the right to decide whether or not a countries cultural identity is “superior” or “inferior” to another. . Since when is it ok for us to tell countries what they can and cannot eat?


– (If mentioned that killing whales are bad) You mentioned that you think that whaling is bad and unsustainable, however would you put this under the same criteria as farming cows or pigs? Farm animals are kept in enclosures under inhumane conditions, yet whales are allowed to roam free.

– (Whales are intelligent) Although whales are intelligent, would we not classify dolphins under the same category? Although we don’t hunt dolphins for resources, we capture them and force them to perform tricks, in zoos and theme parks. This is worse than killing them, it is a life of slavery for an intelligent creature, with no means of conveying their intentions to leave.

– (Species may become extinct) If whale populations are monitored carefully, it is fully possible for whales to be sustainably harvested for resources. Without whaling, smaller whales may eventually grow in numbers and will cause the larger whales to become extinct naturally.

– (Whaling is cruel) We, as humans, not only slaughter pigs in slaughterhouses and cows for meat, we also limit them to farms and enclosures, never being able to see the wild. Hunting whales should still be allowed because they do not live in enclosures, and have some chance at a life before we harvest them for their resources.

-(All killing is wrong according to the bible) 

Religion does not support many things, such as homosexuality, how is banning whaling any different? Secondly, the bible should not be viewed as the “book of law”, how are we to trust a book written 3500 years ago? Our point was to show that the bible should not be viewed as the book of law. You mentioned that you think that whaling is bad, however would you put this under the same criteria as farming cows or pigs? Farm animals are kept in enclosures under inhumane conditions, yet whales are allowed to roam free.

Brief Ideas:

  • Many indigenous people, such as the Inuits of Alaska, rely on whales for food and other materials to survive in such harsh environments.

  • If whale populations are monitored carefully, it might be possible for whales to be sustainably harvested.

  • Whaling provides jobs and pumps money into the economy.

  • Some, like the Japanese and Icelandic, believe that whales are depleting stocks of important forage fish like capelin and herring, citing the fact that some whales eat tons of such fish every day.

  • Some regard minke whales as “pests”, which the larger baleen whales are forced to compete with, therefore making it more difficult for them to recover1.

  • Sustain cultures in countries such as Japan, where whale meat is a vital part of their culture. Its the same as asking Korea to stop killing cows and eating beef. We don’t have the right to decide whether or not a countries cultural identity is “superior” or “inferior” to another.

  • Killing humans vs. killing animals 

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TOK presentation ideas

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The ethical issues concerning Cyberwarfare

The development of technology is so advanced that the law (and perhaps the public) has yet to catch up with the use and consequences of the technology itself. For example, the latest issue being, disputes over google glass, where a google glass user was attacked in a bar in San Francisco. There are many modern day examples of these controversial issues regarding the advancement of technology. For instance, cloning raises the ethical issue of
To what extent does reasoning and emotion allow for us to intervene with the creation of human life?” In this post, I will attempt to justify and reflect on ethical issues concerning the use of Cyberwarfare. The development of technology is so advanced, that in order for a country to attack another, the attacker does not even have to be within the perimeters of the country itself. What I mean by this is that, unlike wars before, all the attacker has to do is send a virus or perhaps disable the enemy’s computer in order to start a war. However this raises the question of whether or not this is an example of a war. Many may argue that Cyberwarfare does not constitute an act of war as no third parties are injured or hurt in the process. But imagine this, a cyber attack resulting in a country’s power grid going down, hospitals will be unable to treat patients, the public will be deprived of power, electricity, food, water and basic essentials. Ultimately leading to several million civilian deaths. However, who is to be held responsible of this crime? And in what ways are cyber attacks similar/different to a physical act of war?The legal framework regarding the question of what exactly constitutes Cyberwarfare is still highly debated and it might take years, or even decades in order for a solution to be worked out.


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Ethical Philosophy

Consequentialism / Ultilitarianism

Consequentialism is the idea that an act can only be considered “right” or “wrong” based upon the results of the act itself, and the consequences of which the act produces. The more positive the results, the more “right” an act is considered to be. Therefore, consequentialism states that a person’s moral judgement should solely be based upon the consequences of the act (in this case, to maximize the positive and while doing so, avoid negative consequences). For instance, we know that lying is wrong because of the consequences that are involved after. There are 2 major forms of consequentialism– ultillarianism and hedonism. Utilitarianism is the idea that people should maximize utility (human satisfaction, well being and welfare), ultillarianism solely focuses on increasing or reducing happiness, whereas hedonism states that people should maximize pleasure that is gained in respective to the act itself. However, is consequentialism really ethical? Say for instance, I murdered a man but the police never found out who did it, and I was never caught. The consequences of the act were not negative, they were avoidable. So does this mean that murder is “right”? Or say for example, I was a train driver, and there were 2 tracks I could take. The first track had 1 person tied to it, the other had 10. Strong supporters of the consequentialism idea will argue that the right track to take would be the track with 1 person tied to it as there will be less consequences and thus less negative results. However, who are we to judge whether life is equivalent to that of 10 lives? and is it fair for us to play God in this situation?

Situational Ethics

Situational ethics is a christian ethical theory, it states that moral judgements can be very flexible, there is no universal solution and all the judgements we make depend on the situation itself. Situational ethics takes on a case to case basis. “Love is the ultimate law”- In situational ethics, the moral codes of christianity and love must be taken into account. Love in this situation means to desire and act to promote the well being of people. Nothing is considered good or bad unless it helps or hurts a person. The highest good is human welfare and happiness (love).

Duty Ethics / Emmanual Kant and the Categorical Imperative

Duty ethics is only concerned with the the action of the person and not the consequence. Strong supporters believe that if you have the incentive, or the thought of committing something or “immoral” no matter the consequences, it is considered wrong. It teaches that actions are regarded as wrong or right themselves, despite the consequences.

Duty ethics stand by 4 simple rules:

  • Do the right thing.
  • Do it because it’s the right thing to do.
  • Don’t do wrong things.
  • Avoid them because they are wrong.


Deontologists live in a universe of moral rules: It is wrong to kill innocent people, to steal, and to tell lies. It is the right thing to keep promises.  They believe that it is in our duty to do the right thing, and our moral judgements should not be based on the consequences that occur after the choice has been made. For example, philosopher Kant describes that it is wrong to lie in order to cover up a murder. Compared to consequentialists, we can see that consequentialists focus on what the “right” or “wrong” thing to do is by looking at the possible outcomes evolved in the decision making process. The process with the most number of positive outcomes is described as the correct thing to do. However, as I have explained above, it is difficult to weight out the pros and the cons of each decision we make as it is not in our power to do so, especially if someones life is at risk. Deontologists on the other hand, believe that the right thing to do, is the moral choice we should make, despite the consequences which may evolve.

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Moral Reasoning-

Skeptics or moral knowledge believe that moral reasoning is usually based upon matters of taste and preferences. They insist that moral reasoning is usually deducted depending on how we feel as a person, our knowledge and understanding of the event from past events and the effect of the consequences after the event. For example, if I were to say “drugs are good” is no different to saying that “I like the colour blue”.

Moral Relativism-

Before I used to think that moral relativism was judged upon how we deduct and conclude what is “wrong” and what is “right” based on the situation we are put in. However, after doing a bit of research, I found out that moral relativism actually meant how our cultural values affect our decision making and the idea of morals

What is wrong? and what is right? is there even such a thing as being wrong or right?

-Do we judge a situation as being wrong or right because of our parents influence?

-Does the environment affect our moral decisions?

-Do we base our moral decisions on God? To what extent does religion affect our morals?

-Does the law affect our decision making?

In order to judge whether a situation is considered wrong or right, we have to take into account other factors that might influence the decision making process.

Standford Jail Experiment

Twenty-four male students were selected to take on the roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison situated in the basement of the Stanford psychology building.

During the experiment, the guards were entitled to enforced strict rules and regulations and ultimately subjected some of the prisoners to torture. Many of the prisoners accepted psychological abuse and, at the request of the guards, readily harassed other prisoners who attempted to prevent it. The experiment even affected Zimbardo who permitted the abuse to continue.

For example, Guards forced the prisoners to repeat their assigned numbers to reinforce the idea that this was their new identity. By doing so, the prisoners no longer felt human, and from this abuse, they were left to feel like objects. The guards also used physical punishment such as protracted exercise for errors in the prisoner count. Some also refused to allow prisoners to urinate/defecate in their cell, as a result sanitary conditions declined rapidly. These are only some of the measures that were taken during the experiment.

The results of the experiment have demonstrated the obedience of people when given a set of rules, and ideologies to follow. It also proves the cognitive dissonance theory as well as the power of authority.

This experiment ties in nicely with the topic of ethics as it not only questions our morals of whether or not Zimbardo was right to carry out this experiment, but it also shows us how our environment and peers can influence our decision-making process as well as our moral judgements.

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