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Day 16 – Q 5. How do scientific facts alter one’s beliefs? Are actions based on scientific facts always ethical? Illustrate.

5. How do scientific facts alter one’s beliefs? Are actions based on scientific facts always ethical? Illustrate.

वैज्ञानिक तथ्य किसी के विश्वास को कैसे बदलते हैं? क्या वैज्ञानिक तथ्यों पर आधारित कार्य हमेशा नैतिक होते हैं? उदाहरण देकर स्पष्ट समझाएं।


A fact is a thing that is known to be consistent with objective reality and can be proven to be true with evidence. Scientific facts are verified by repeatable careful observation or measurement by experiments or other means. In the most basic sense, a scientific fact is an objective and verifiable observation, in contrast with a hypothesis or theory, which is intended to explain or interpret facts.


Discussions about the ethical foundations of a society and their re-interpretation usually take place when traditional customs or behaviours are challenged by new developments. In a static society, values are well codified, usually by religion or by tradition. This is true for numerous ancient societies, which remained unchanged for centuries. But wars, invasions or new scientific development or a new culture or religion usually prompt the evaluation of the traditional values. Example: Less than 500 years ago, science was a dangerous business. In 1600, the Italian monk Giordano Bruno was sentenced to death and burned at the stake for a stubborn adherence to his then unorthodox beliefs—including the ideas that the universe is infinite and that other solar systems exist. Galileo Galilei narrowly avoided the same fate but only by publicly renouncing his support of Copernicus’ heliocentric view.

Actions based on Scientific facts are ethical

  • The ethics of science and science itself share the goal of comprehending in human terms scientists’ actions in manipulating the physical world.
  • In the ethics of science nothing is expected to be believed with more conviction than the evidence warrants.
  • Promotion of science along with the growth of moral values is necessary for human development. Ethics demands reporting authentic results rather than withholding relevant information. That is to say that scientists are expected to be honest. Another ethical requirement on the part of scientists is the proper treatment of living subjects, both humans and animals. This calls for checking and balancing mechanisms to ensure that the health and security of such subjects are endangered neither in research laboratories nor in their natural environment.
  • Research findings indicate that if science considers ethical values, then the lives of humans and other creatures are not endangered by destructive agents like atomic bombs and chemical weapons.
  • The topics and use of results of research and the methods or practice of science are also the province of ethical concern and social values. In weapons research, in research into better agricultural methods aimed at alleviating hunger, or in low-cost forms of harnessing solar or wind energy in poor rural areas, the researchers are ethical agents responsible for the consequences of their actions.
  • Obviously, science can help identify unforeseen consequences or causal relationships where ethical values or principles are relevant. In addition, individuals need reliable knowledge for making informed decisions. Scientists can articulate where, how, and to what degree a risk exists.

Actions based on Scientific facts are not ethical

  • Scientific progress, the driving force for the majority of the changes witnessed in the 20th century, requires a critical mind, free of prejudice and open to new ways of thinking. 
  • The relationship between public and private research is one of the source of ethical issues, which are important not only for the research community, but for all sectors of society.
  • Universities and public research institutes encourage their scientists to request funds from industry and to patent their results. Scientists working in the public sector increasingly own patents or shares, or act as consultants for companies These activities are an important source of income as well as expertise and proprietary technology for the universities. 
  • Moreover, they are encouraged by politicians since they generate start-up companies and stimulate local economies. Although this phenomenon is considered to be very useful, it can and already has caused conflicts of interest.
  • For example: debate on embryonic stem cells. Knowledge concerning human stem cells could be used to devise new therapies that may benefit millions of patients.
  • These totipotent cells could be grown and differentiated in vitro to produce specific cell lines, which could be used as cell transplants, for example to replace ‘dopaminergic’ neurons for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. This is a research strategy and not a working technology. However, the public debate asks if it is ethical to destroy human embryos in order to gain knowledge for the purpose of curing diseases. The arguments against the use of embryonic cells essentially deal with the respect for human life and for human dignity
  • Genetically modified (GM) plants have also stirred a growing public controversy. While stem cell research challenges views on the very nature of humanity itself, the ethical implications of GM plants rather raises questions on how to deal with the environment.


There are certain moral values, such as concern for people, empathy, and kindness that are important in setting research priorities in science and in determining the uses of science. There is a need to incorporate these humanitarian values into the science and technology spheres, while maintaining and reinforcing the intrinsic values of science. In the quest for scientific and technological development, ethical values should not be neglected.

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