MadSci Network: Other

Re: Why is slavery morally and religiously incorrect?

Date: Fri Nov 5 10:38:36 1999
Posted By: Dan Berger, MadSci Admin
Area of science: Other
ID: 941601933.Ot

This is not a question to which "science" per se can give an answer. There are many examples of slavery in both human and nonhuman nature. It is a lie to say that slavery is immoral because it is economically inefficient; a number of instances from both human and non-human history show that slavery works pretty well (at least for the slaveowners). Beyond that, science can say nothing.

Science is unable to make any sort of moral pronouncement (unless "moral" is rather radically re-defined). Individual scientists are moral or immoral, but they bring their morality (or lack of it) to science from elsewhere, they do not get it from science.

As an example, consider Lise Meitner, J. Robert Oppenheimer and Edward Teller. All were excellent nuclear physicists; all were offered the chance to work on the atom bomb.

  • Meitner refused because she considered war immoral.
  • Oppenheimer consented because he considered it a greater evil for Germany to get the Bomb first, but was horrified by the results.
  • Teller consented because he thought it important for the democracies to be as militarily strong as possible, and not only considered the use of the Bomb to be morally correct but also thought that the development and threatened use of the hydrogen bomb was moral because of the results: use of the A-bomb "ended the Second World War" (this is disputed by some historians) and the power of the H-bomb prevented all-out war between the Soviet Union and the United States.

    Dan Berger
    MadSci Administrator

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