This chapter examines some of the cultural variation in the ethical factors associated with the use of science and technology. The issues discussed include access to technology, social justice, professional ethics, and value systems. The appropriate implementation of international standards in ethics of science and technology and bioethics is considered. There is global agreement that persons should be taught the ethics of science and technology, and discussion of new materials and methods is made. The goals of ethics education as explained in the Action Plan for Bioethics Education developed at the 2006 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Conference on Bioethics Education include knowledge, skills and personal moral development. The International Bioethics Education Network was initiated in 2004, and the creation of networks linking research into policy is a cornerstone of efforts for education of ethics at all levels, from local to regional. In the future the use of principles as expressed in the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights (2005) will also be analyzed to broaden the description of bioethical reasoning. There needs to be extension of the evaluation methods and tools.
Global Calls For Ethics Education
In addition to the need for professional ethics, citizens of all ages need to make ethical decisions on how they use science and technology and its products. Opinion surveys in every country they have been conducted to show global agreement for the inclusion of more ethical and social issues associated with science and technology to be taught to students. Member states of UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in the Universal Declaration on the Protection of the Human Genome and Human Rights (1997) declared such an educational need, and every member country of the United Nations endorsed this in 1998. This call was repeated by all member states when adopting the 2005 Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. These calls follow numerous academic works also calling for this (Reiss, 1999; Ratcliffe & Grace, 2003).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Bioethics: This is a field concerned with ethical implications within medicine and medical research.
Medical Ethics: This is a field of applied ethics concerned with moral and ethical values in medicine.
Ethics of Science and Technology: This is a field concerned with ethical study of science and technology.
UNESCO: UNESCO is a specialised technical intergovernmental agency of the United Nations, focusing on promotion of education, culture, social and natural sciences, and communication and information.
Evaluation: This is a set of procedures designed to measure or account for changes in learning or performance.
Moral Development: This concerns changes in individual values that occur during development.
Education: This describes the process and act of acquiring knowledge.