Does the possession of knowledge carry an ehitcal responsibility?

Topics: Ethics, Morality, Knowledge Pages: 4 (1184 words) Published: October 28, 2013


TOK Prescribed Essay

“The possession of knowledge carries an ethical responsibility”. Evaluate this claim.

Candidate Name: Ting Yuen Lai
Candidate Number: 1206-051
Centre: Sha Tin College
Word Count: 1207
Session: May 2013

We are often troubled and worried about the course of our actions, and the ethics associated with those actions. Ethics are known to be the fundamental principles or beliefs associated with morally acceptable and morally unacceptable behavior, seen in a person’s eyes. Now according to moral relativism, an area of ethics, our values are determined by the society we grow up in and there are no universal values (van de Lagemaat p.387). For example, Muslims are prohibited to eat pork while in other religions, eating pork is considered perfectly acceptable. Hence, a person’s ethics can have originated from a variety of different sources. An ethical responsibility is known to be our responsibility to act upon our beliefs based on what we consider as morally right or wrong. In this paper, I will explore the extent to which the possession of knowledge truly carries an ethical responsibility. Immediately, we can see several assumptions made in this claim. First off, it is assumed that “knowledge is power” (Sir Francis Bacon). Secondly, since “knowledge is power”, it is then assumed that “with great power comes great responsibility” (Stan Lee), and hence the knower carries a responsibility with the knowledge he/she possesses. There are also numerous knowledge issues that can be raised in this claim. Is it the way humans understand knowledge that generates an ethical responsibility, or does knowledge itself already generate an ethical responsibility? How far into the process of knowing does the knower begin to have an ethical responsibility? Does knowledge in any particular area not carry an ethical responsibility? What is considered as ethical? Do views of ethics vary...

Bibliography: van de Lagemaat, Richard. Theory of Knowledge for the IB Diploma. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Paperback.
“Japan history textbook controversies.” Wikipedia. n.p. n.d. 1st January 2013.
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