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Value and Ethics of Science. Chinese Academy of Sciences Prof. Dr.- Ing. Lu Yongxiang. Nov 11, 2005. Value of Science. Science is the quintessence of knowledge of human cognition of the objective world. Technology is being and developing mode created by mankind.

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Nov 11, 2005

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Value and Ethics of Science

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Prof. Dr.- Ing. Lu Yongxiang

Nov 11, 2005


Value of Science

  • Science is the quintessence of knowledge of human cognition of the objective world.

Technology is being and developing mode created by mankind.

Science and technology is the driving force and foundation of modern civilization.

  • Contemporary scientific revolution has triggered off technological revolution and industrial revolution.

——the theory of relativity, quantum and cybernetics fueled the development of nuclear , semi-conductor, laser physics and so on, which gave birth to, the development of nuclear energy, industrial automation, IC and IT technology and the relevant industrial revolution.


Value of Science

  • Modern science and technology has brought about improvt agriculture, health care and quality of life.
  • IT, life sciences and biotechnology, etc have brought human into an era of global and knowledge-based economy.
  • Modern science and technology has opened a new era of harmonious and sustainable development of human with nature.

Modern science and technology is still brewing new breakthroughs, which will bring about revolutionary changes to the future production mode, life style, social structure, etc. meanwhile inevitably giving rise to more ethical and moral issues.


IT will continue its developing towards broadband, wireless, intelligence and grid working, and bring about profound impact on the daily life, production mode, commercial and social management, and further boost globalization of information, capital, human resources, production and operation.

—— However, problems such as networking fraud, hacker attack, information leakage, data falsification, gambling and illegal dissemination of pornography , etc also come along. Moreover, due to imbalance of information acquisition and application among different countries, regions and individuals, new disparity between rich and poor — digital gap, will occur.


Further development of life sciences and biotechnology will bring about new revolutionary changes to agriculture and healthcare. Meanwhile, the advancement and extensive application of industrial and eco-environmental biotechnology will lead to the advent of Bio-economy era.

——However, ethical problems such as individual life code disclosure, difficulty in definition of individual’s social attribution, etc will also rise. Other problems include factitious impact on ecological balance and safety, new threat to human genetic and development health, etc.


The Achievements of nanotechnology may further change the industries of information, electronics, manufacture, chemical process, pharmaceuticals, materials and environmental protection etc.

——However, once nanotechnology is extensively applied in various fields, numerous challenges in aspects such as human health, social ethics, ecological environment, etc may appear. Research already show, that some nano powder have special toxicity , nano particles and nano carbon tube may trigger cancer and could penetrate animal’s blood-brain barrier, and the waste disposal of nano materials may bring us to face new problems. If one day nanotechnology is used to make danger weapons, man has yet to find ways and means to protect ourselves.


Progress of cognitive science will possibly trigger revolutionary changes for computer, communication, brain/nervous science, and even learning and education, providing more effective means for the well-being and development of human brain and neural system, and the prevention and cure of mental diseases.

——However, improper use of cognitive science may lead to control of man’s behavior, sensibility and thought such as psychological inducement, cognition inducement, etc and cause serious ethical problems such as illegal infringement on human rights such as privacy and self-determination of behavior, etc.


Combination of information technology and life sciences with biotechnology, nanotechnology, cognitive science and mathematics / system science will find new, effective and simple mathematic tools and methods to understand matters, life and human cognizing process, and possibly trigger off new scientific and technological revolution.

——However, this may also bring about new knowledge gap and imbalance of development.


Advanced and extensive application of space technology (GIS,GPS,RS) has expanded human’s visions of cognition, promoted developing the earth, resource and environmental science, provided the technological support for agriculture, monitoring the eco-environmentals, forecasting climate change and natural disaster, and creation of a digital earth.

——but under modern space supervision, it’s difficult to keep individual privacy and confidentials of commercial information, so countries possessing space supervision technologies inevitably have information advantages, thus causing new ethical problems such as dissymmetry of information, unfair of development, etc.


As fortune created by mankind jointly, science and technology has the characteristics of accumulation, sharable and re-creation. It should benefit all mankind.

Meanwhile, we should clear realize that science and technology is also a double-edged sword, once misused, it may endanger natural ecosystem, human rights, life in the earth, and harmonious and sustainable evolution between human society and nature, thus causing further unfair, insecurity, disharmony, no sustainablility, and even man-made disasters.


Scientific ethics that mankind

should all abide

  • Scientists and engineers should not only have the interest and passion for creation, but also shoulder the social responsibility.
  • In S&T innovation, we should respect life (including that of mankind and other life).
  • In S&Tinnovation, we should respect the human rights fairly (including that among not just the contemporaries but also the different generations).
  • In S&Tinnovation, we should respect dignity of human (including those of different ethnic groups, genders, ages and with different beliefs).
  • In S&Tinnovation, we should respect nature, protect eco-systems and environment, and realize harmonious coexistence and sustainable evolution between man and nature.

Commonality between ancient oriental philosophy

and modern scientific ethics

2500 years ago, the Chinese philosopher Confucius (551 BC — 479 BC) put forward the following ethical norms:

仁— treasure life

义— treat people equally

礼— respect each other

智— encourage creation

信— be faithful and trustable


Ancient oriental philosophy attaches importance

to the unity of heaven and man, harmonious

coexistence between man and nature.

  • Confucius (551 BC-479 BC) said, “Without recognizing the ordinances of Heaven, it is impossible to be a superior man” (The Analects· Yao Yue), in which “ordinances of Heaven” means the rule of nature.
  • Lao Tzu (around 571 BC- 471 BC) once said, “Tao models itself after the nature” (The Classic of the Way and virtue), highlighting the necessity of abiding by the rule of nature.
  • Zhuang Tzu (around 369 BC - 286 BC) once said, “There is nothing superior; there is nothing inferior” (Zhuang Tzu · Discussion on Making All Things Equal),requesting to treat all things in the universe equally.
  • Mencius (around 372 BC - 289 BC) asserted “loving people and treasuring things”(Mencius·Doctrine of Extending Affection), treating people kindly and loving the nature.

It is not scientific and technological development itself but just improper use that accounts for some ethical problems arising along with scientific and technological development. Man should by no means give up or restrict scientific and technological development in the excuse of ethnics.

——Exploring the unknown world, innovating production mode and lifestyle and preserving the eco-environment are everlasting drive for scientific and technology.

——Science and technology is the inexhaustible source and driving force for progress of human civilization.

——It is the common social responsibility for scientists and engineers to develop science and technology to promote the welfare of human beings.

——The combination of scientific spirit and humanistic spirit will inevitably help to establish new ethical norms following science and technology developing.


I am convinced that so long as Scientists, Engineers and other peoples of all countries work hand in hand to face common challenges, enhance exchange and adequately cooperate each other, we will be able to create a more promising future for mankind!

Thank you!