Possession of Knowledge Carries an Ethical Responsibility

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“The possession of knowledge carries an ethical responsibility.” Evaluate this claim. The right to study and possess knowledge is a fundamental right for every human which is enshrined in nearly every single country’s constitution. However, the decisions that are made when this knowledge is applied could potentially have repercussions. At this point, ethics becomes involved in the use of knowledge. In order to evaluate the claim that the possession of knowledge carries ethical responsibility, it is important to understand ethics and knowledge in the general sense To put it simply, ethics is moral philosophy, or rationalization of conduct as either right or wrong. Normative ethics is the study of determining a moral course of action. The two most prominent ethical guidelines are Kantianism and Utilitarianism. Immanuel Kant suggested that ethics revolve around duty, rather than emotions. All actions are related to an underlying principle. Kantian thought supports the idea that the actions are justified by a set of rules outlined in Kantianism. Utilitarianism is based on the idea of a greater good. Positive and negative consequences are quantified and the most positive consequence for the greatest amount of people is chosen, sometimes at the expense of others. For utilitarian school of thought, an individual strives to do the most good, even at the expense of the minority. Utilitarianism and Kantianism find the basis of their differences in the idea that the ends justify the means. Utilitarian beliefs support this idea while Kantian philosophy rejects this. Modern ethics were devised from these two basic ethical beliefs in an attempt to combine the best aspects. Generally, the morally “right” action benefits the majority while affecting the fewest amount in a negative way. Modern ethics are essentially the best of both worlds, eliminating the realist issue with
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