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The Relativity of the Moral                                         7 Jan. 1999

By Pavel Kollar

Interesting are the reactions of different people and institutions on scientific innovations. I came to conclusion that these moral reactions differ when the object of valuation is some scientific undertaking whose aim is to promote human life and when the aim of it is just opposite, to destroy the human life.

I do not remember what was the reaction of some governments when the science came to possibility to produce atomic bomb. I guess nobody in broad public knew anything about the issue. The explanation could be the war situation and the purpose of the tool. It was a weapon intended to destroy enemy. And nobody worried about the consequences possible because these were clear and foreseenable. Nobody has seen that the concrete 'enemy' consisted of human beings equally in which uniform and under which flag. And nobody asked questions about the final purpose of the thing. Some worry about the consequences came only later, mid 70-ies(at least I red first time about the issue). There appeared articles in the newspapers written by journalists or some intellectuals about some possible negative consequences not only for those who could be attacked by the tool, but also for attackers and finally for the mankind and for the life on the earth. But the underlying tone in these reaction was not some moral or human consideration but much more concrete danger extrapolated from the first use of the tool and from the experiments. The concluding echo was that in war, run by these tools, there cannot be winners, only losers. And some events that happened since that time let the impression that the owners of the tool learned something from the discussion. The pure moral reaction came only recently, when the head of Catholic Church expressed the worry that if science will remain outside the moral control it will become the potentially destroyer of the world(so establishing some relation between Galileo and Hiroshima) and so attaching the whole responsibility to science(as though the science being the one who used or will use the tool).

The another issue was the transplantation of human organs. The first heart transplantation was welcomed with excitement and hope. Finally something what could help individuals to live. But when the method improved and opened the way to more practical use there came also the questions about the morality of the undertaking. The questions were over the identity of human individual. So transplantation yes but with some limits. And possible a millennium ago when there started some new methods of curing of some disease, the reactions were similar.

Cloning will produce humans, not something else and these humans can be either better than the original or at least the same. But this time the moral reaction came before the method was applied and is known what kind of reaction this was. Some governments or other governing bodies explicitly stated that the undertaking is amoral. Then possible the humanity itself is amoral? Cloning by itself can be considered as without aim and completely unnecessary but its value is much more as introducing step for 'man made life' what is nothing more than a conscious copy of natural processes. Today, what parents do is also some kind of manufacturing of descent but accomplished on unsophisticated way, with more intuition than knowledge. And cloning will not create population explosion, sure.

Why not questions about the implications of scientific research in the fields of destruction of human life which run under the control of different governments? And nobody bothers that there are institutions(military for ex. and different polices, etc. not to mention some tolerated criminal) whose solely aim is destruction of human life, equally in which quantity, small or great. Today destruction of life is so an obvious undertaking that nobody asks questions about the meaning, the sense or the purpose of this.

This century cannot complain that horror was not in plenty(see for ex. the article in IHT from JAN 2-3 this year, under the title 'In address, Pope Recalls Horror ...). The same report could be written also by some other organization, the UN for ex. But all these descriptions are only reports about the final results of something, like a problems with no word about the cause. I do not know whether governments will bother too much about this. Then possible the science.

How to valuate the scientific products when there are more morals and more interpretations even by the same people. Remember only the expression 'of double moral' or 'shaky moral' and similar. Then possible some new moral code created by science itself? And from whose standpoint? My answer is that every moral can be only from the standpoint of concrete individual. Individual is the final measure of all activities, the source of feeling what is good or bad. It cannot exist some measurement which would be one level higher(above that 'level higher' which is already coded in every individual by natural processes - the so called 'higher interest' or 'state interest' today is in reality a collectivism based on ego interests of one group in competition with another). The critic of this statement could be from the standpoint of theory according which the human individual is irresponsible to other one, is weak, labile etc. and functions only when limited by authority. But I think this is much more ideology than theory and looks plausible because it was taught through generations. If the same genetical code once creates a good man and another time bad man, then there must be in play something else, not only genetics. Possible the science can contribute to changes in morality if it starts to observe the potentialities and limits of the basic message.

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