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What science can and cannot tell us

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What science can and cannot tell us

Traditionally, priests served as the arbiters of right and wrong, advising and passing judgement on moral issues. Scientists, on the other hand, were supposed to divest themselves of their moral stance in order to observe and record the world in an objective manner. Science operates on the philosophical principle that the world is understandable by humans, and that it is a worthwhile endeavour for us to do so. There is disagreement about where the limits of scientific enquiry lie, however. Can science solve once and for all our moral conundrums and remove the need for political disagreements? Filmed at the Battle of Ideas a line up of leading experts share their views.

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Related topics: Debates, Science & Progress

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topol said:

This was a great debate which touched at the core of what the relationship is between science and morality. Moral questions cannot be resolved by science alone, nor can science be held resposible for moral failings. If we have given up on political leadership because it is either too fundamentalist or too corrupt then niether science or morality really holds the winning hand. Further battles of ideas will ensue on this question.

Sarah said:

Agree brilliant debate and really informative-learned loads, the speaker from Wellcome evidently knows his stuff but i don’t like his conclusions at all.

Rupa said:

As one of the audience members said in this debate, the problem is not science and that scientists are malignly taking over the world, but that we have lost faith in the fact that humans can actually act upon the world in positive ways. Part and parcel of that is recognising that science can and has told us a lot about the natural world creating for us the conditions to alter our world often in magnificent ways. Again our ability and willingness to use science in this way rests upon our faith in humanity as a force for good rather than a parasitic imposition on an otherwise pristine planet!

Hayley said:

Excellent debate. Some very important questions were asked about science and its place in our world. Can science tell us about morality? No, as much as statistics can’t. So, for example we may be able to statistically prove that people over the age of lets say 70 years are economically unproductive and hence parasitic on society, are we going to kill them off? No. Today, when evidence based policy is all the rage and THE justification for say invading Iraq, environmental regulations, etc. we have to remember that these are political and not scientific questions.