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

Lani Chung Candidate Number: 003960-008 Mr. Bataluna Theory of Knowledge 6 January 2013

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Lani Chung Mr. Bataluna Theory of Knowledge 28 January 2013 Theory of Knowledge Essay The possession of knowledge carries an ethical responsibility. Evaluate this claim. The main role of ethics is help people to distinguish right from wrong in order to ensure that the best possible outcome of a situation is achieved. What this suggests is that people must make their decisions based on their evaluation of the implications they might have on themselves as well as the people and environment around them. This stance on ethics is one that has been formulated and embraced by Aristotle. According to his philosophy, it is reasonable to support the claim that possessing knowledge comes with ethical responsibility as decisions that have a greater positive effect on the wellbeing of humanity should be made. When one has knowledge, there arises potential for both good and bad implications based on what one decides to do with it. This kind of power makes it necessary for an individual to carry a sense of ethical responsibility when they are in the possession of knowledge. The aforementioned claim holds true across various areas of knowledge including natural science, human science, and history. Since knowledge is a form of power and power requires responsibility, it is therefore logical that knowledge carries with it a sense of ethical responsibility. Modern technology has revolutionized the kind of knowledge that can be acquired about individuals. The internet has become a medium that generally allows for access to personal data and information. It has been made possible for people to get ahold of financial information, medical records, and even internet usage patterns that can reveal data about individuals in order

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to decipher whether they are eligible for loans or if they are healthy enough to offer insurance, and to determine what kinds of things that they might enjoy. Although wielding the knowledge and capability to access an individuals personal information might prove to be a convenience, the big question that arises is whether it is ethical to invade personal privacy. One may reason that having the knowledge of someones personal information can improve their online experience and also help to detect any negative activity that they may partake in, thus helping to keep the online community safe. However, the issue with allowing peoples data to be given out and made known is that it violates the privacy as well as the dignity of individuals. By compromising ones privacy, you are interfering with his or her autonomy and are violating their right as an individual even if you are merely trying to pool data in an attempt to help them benefit in the long run. In situations such as these when it is difficult to determine the right thing to do with your knowledge, it is necessary to consider the ethical implications of your actions in order to determine the best decision that will deliver the best impact on humanity. While it is important to consider the ethics that lie behind how knowledge should be used, it is also important to determine if possessed knowledge should be used or shared at all. At some point in many peoples lives, they might face a scenario where they may be pressured into helping another individual cheat. It is a classic occurrence that manifests in the educational system: one student did not study for a test and thus attempts to rely on a peers acquired knowledge in order to reap the benefits of a better grade. The student in possession of knowledge is then placed in a dilemma. He or she must now decide whether or not they will choose to withhold their knowledge or to give it out. Because the student is placed in a situation where their decision holds potential implications and consequences on themselves as well as the people around them, it is necessary for one to make ethical considerations. They are thus disposed to

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analyze the situation at hand for their implications. This can be done through reason if they logically weigh the outcomes of their decisions. On one hand, by helping a fellow peer cheat you can ensure that they get a more favorable grade on their exam while on the other hand, refusing to share your knowledge will save them from suffering the consequences of being caught. Although it is important to recognize that there is no exact way to calculate which decision will be the better and more ethical choice, considering the consequences will help an individual to use their knowledge in a way that is beneficial to the greater good. While ethical responsibility when in the possession of knowledge is important for otherwise low-impact situations such as determining whether you should help a peer cheat on an exam, it becomes essential in scenarios where knowledge can have detrimental effects on the wellbeing of many lives. Historically, Albert Einstein was a brilliant mind with vast amounts of knowledge in the realm of science, specifically regarding nuclear physics. During the time of World War II, he had become aware of the fact that the Germans had successfully split a uranium atom which he knew could eventually escalate into a full scale atomic bomb that could potentially be used by the Nazi aggressors to kill countless people. It was then that Einstein had to make a decision on whether to impart his knowledge to President Roosevelt in an attempt to develop an atomic bomb to help defend the Allies, or whether to hold back his information to prevent altogether the creation of a weapon that will place many lives in danger. Judging by his ultimate decision to aid in the creation of an initiative to create an atomic bomb, Einstein felt that the Hitlers aggression was a threat that could only be stopped through the use of sheer force. However, although Einsteins decision showed ethical responsibility for his knowledge and successfully prevented Nazi violence in the form of an atomic bomb, the poor ethical responsibility shown by the individuals who received Einsteins knowledge caused negative

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repercussions. Countless lives were lost in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki when it was decided that the atomic bomb be dropped on Japan. The great implications that the impartment of knowledge can have make it essential that ethical responsibility for ones knowledge is considered. Knowledge is clearly a powerful possession that can be both devastating and desirable. Although what you know may be very important, how you apply your knowledge will ultimately decide what effect it will have on your surroundings. Knowledge is nothing but brain activity isolated in the confines of an individuals mind without application. It is thus crucial that individuals make it their responsibility to ponder the implications of their knowledge on the greater good and general welfare of themselves as well as the people and environment around them. By simply thinking things through and weighing the possible consequences that the application of knowledge can result in, decisions that are more ethical in nature can be made and a situation might be able to yield better results. This essentially implies that it is the responsibility of knowledgeable individuals to be self-aware about the decisions that they make in terms of knowledge impartment to make sure that negative affliction is avoided to the best of their ability. Despite the underlying ambiguity that surrounds the determination of what outcome can be deemed the best and more favorable as well as the flaws that are associated with attempting to predict the future consequences of ones decisions, a sense of ethical responsibility will always be attached to those in the possession of knowledge.

Word Count: 1,240

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Works Cited Kraut, Richard. "Aristotle's Ethics." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. N.p., 1 May 2001. Web. 06 Feb. 2013. <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-ethics/>. Long, Doug. "Albert Einstein." Albert Einstein and the Atomic Bomb. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2013. <http://www.doug-long.com/einstein.htm>.