Address delivered during FORUM IIIby Dr Nicolas K. ARTEMIADIS
Regular member of the Academy of Athen
Chairman of the Greek National Committee for ICSU
The Greek Delegation, consisting of two national delegates and of two representative of the Academy of Athens, wishes to thank the Hungarian Government and the Hungarian people for their warm hospitality. We also want to thank ICSU and UNESCO for organizing this World Conference on Science, a conference of such great importance.
Due to the limited time, I will concentrate only on one subject, namely on the issue concerning Ethics and the Responsibility of Science.
There are two aspects of the same coin, seemingly controversial.
a. Traditionally, science has been regarded as an integral part of human development towards greater knowledge and deeper understanding of the world. All research results were considered objectively and were not especially related to ethical principles. Science was considered as something neutral.
b. However, this traditional image of science is today being often substituted by project-oriented teamwork, science that needs to justify itself in terms of potential human consequences. This gives science an ethical dimension and, as many scientists think, raises ethical problems.
As a result of this we are led to believe that the ethical responsibility of the scientific community is ultimately borne by individual scientists.
To remedy this situation several solutions are proposed, as for example the establishment of ethical committees by various organisations in their field of competence.
This policy may lead however to undesirable limitations in the development of human knowledge, therefore it should be avoided.
To make a long story short, we think that both streams of ideas mentioned above can be covered by the following proposal.
First, we establish a Pledge that should be given by all scientists, a pledge similar to the Hippocratic Oath. Such a Pledge was submited by the Academy of Athens several weeks ago to the secretariat of this Conference. It is based on the pledge given by the PhD candidate in a Greek University the day he gets his degree. The original text is in ancient Greek and its translation into English is as follows:
I pledge: To foster science to the best of my ability and to strive and to glorify it all the time, and not to use it for gain or for the pursuit of vain glory, but so that the light of divine truth be further diffused to illuminate the many. Also to perform readily all that shall lead to piety, orderly behaviour and dignified manners and never to disparage the teachings of others out of foolish vanity nor to attempt to refute their tenets with fallacies or to profess the opposite of what I know myself, and not to trade upon science and put the dignity of the disciples of the Muses to shame by disorderly conduct. As I accomplish this pledge of mine, so help me God.
Clearly the pledge creates automatically an ethical framework within which the individual researcher should be left completely free to do his job. The only obligation of an ethical committee, if any, is just to check if the researcher is keeping his Pledge.
Large-scale applications of technology could be under social control but scientific knowledge should not. Furthermore it is almost impossible to know beforehand the outcome and impact of most scientific results.