Conway Memorial Lecture
28 October 2010 at 6:30 pm
In this year’s Conway Memorial address, Professor Jonathan Glover will explore the ethics of scientific research and aim to understand if it is necessary to decide what the responsibilities of individual scientists are, or ought to be with regard to the moral consequences of their work. Given that we live in a world in which nation states and other groups develop weapons with appalling possibilities, should scientists never take part, or can the defensive development of such weapons sometimes be the lesser evil? The uses of science for dark purposes: for torture, and for atrocities, either in war or as acts of terrorism can be seen in many cases throughout history, notably with regard to atomic and bioogical weapons. After medicine and medical research was used in atrocities by the Nazis, the medical world drew up codes of ethics governing research, and developed a whole culture of ethical discussion and debate. Should something similar be developed for the community of research scientists and technologists? If so what should it be like?
The annual Conway Memorial Lectures are given in honour of Moncure Conway, the American abolitionist and biographer of Thomas Paine, who also gives his name to the home of South Place Ethical Society, Conway Hall. The lectures have been given every year since 1910 and past speakers include many luminaries of the humanist movement and some of the most distinguished philosophers, scientists and cultural commentators of the twentieth century including Israel Zangwill, Bertrand Russell, Leonard and Julian Huxley, J.B.S Haldane, Joseph Needham, Jacob Bronowski, James Hemming, Bernard Williams, H.J Blackham, Fenner Brockway, A.J Ayer, Herman Bondi, David Starkey, A.C Grayling and Steve Jones.
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