Ethical Judgments And The Production Of Knowledge

1613 words - 7 pages

Humans are rational and emotional creatures whose intellect allows for the evaluation of behaviors and actions. These evaluations help humans rule over actions and create ethical judgments. Ethical judgments dictate over what should be done and restrict the way of being of individuals. Ethical judgments have an impact in the methods available in the production of knowledge, but are not considered hindrances since they affirm the principles of human morality and are needed to judge knowledge claims. Having said that, to what extent do ethics limit the methods available in the production of knowledge in the arts and the natural sciences?
In order to correctly explore the knowledge issue, an ...view middle of the document...

For instance, I once witnessed an incident where the mother of a bullied child wanted the immediate corporal punishment of the aggressor. Infuriated, the mother was overtaken by emotion, and could not assess her unethical solution of violence. If one relies exclusively on reason, then one begins to walk away from human conscience; but if one relies exclusively on emotion, then one begins to lose sight of moral dilemmas. The conciliation is to utilize reason and emotion in tandem and see ethics as an evaluation of the human being.
The arts are forms of creativity and innovation, developed since humans began to transform everyday objects into items of communication, cognition, and significance. The value of art not only lies within, but in the eye of the beholder. People produce art in an attempt to evoke the emotions and express hidden feelings. Art does not have to be aesthetically beautiful, but must have a reason of existence that ranges from expression to awareness. The production of knowledge in the arts happens when art educates others about ideas, cultures, and events, causing people to create a balance between knowledge and moral dilemmas.
Taking as an exemplar, the controversy surrounding the German anatomist, Gunther Von Hangens, who paraded a collection of plastinated human corpses throughout the world in his exhibition, Body Worlds. The plastinations were considered art since the exhibition was created from human innovation in order to evoke different reactions and educate others about human anatomy, and did not cause moral dilemmas until it was found that the corpses were not willing donors; rather mentally ill people, criminals, homeless people, and bodies not claimed by anyone. From the evidence, people claimed the exhibition was unethical since the corpses were attained through illegal body trafficking. The exhibit produced a strong emotional response and people were infuriated at the thought of killing humans for the purpose of art. People also reasoned that individuals had to voluntarily agree to give their body to art. Thus, the moral dilemmas outweighed the value of knowledge from the exhibit.
Nonetheless, in different scenarios, moral dilemmas do impose limitations in the production of knowledge; such as the case of the photograph where Thich Quang Duc voluntary performs self-immolation. Quang Duc decided to perform public suicide in order to protest against the persecution of Mahayana Buddhism by the South Vietnamese government. The initial emotions experienced by the acknowledgement of suicide are of shock, detachment, and cowardice; and through reason, one can evaluate that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Additionally, one could argue only a higher power has the right to take life and that by performing suicide one destroys the single known world. The photo, however, was reproduced in mass quantities and distributed around the world. People reasoned that if someone had to resort to...

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