How can you or your society decide ethically which knowledge should or should not be pursued?

Science, the pursuit of knowledge about how the world works. This search for facts and data from observation, experimentation, and sometimes sheer luck, has been the forefront of many questions, debates, moral issues and forums for all of human history. In it's time, it has called into question the nature of the earth and planets, the existence of God, how we actually live from day to day, and constantly changes the way we look at the world each day. But is this all good? Should we be learning this knowledge? Is this knowledge worth the risks or benefits that it may bring? And how do we decide this? This is the main question that must be answered, How.

Recently, an obscure cult in North America has claimed to have created the first Human clone. This technology, Genetic Engineering and Cloning, has been the centre of intense debate for many years, and has yet to be resolved. For decades scientists, priest, academics and politicians have debated, questioned and examined the possibilities of what this technology can and will do. But even with the drastic measures that have been taken by that cult, no clear cut answer has been found for whether this knowledge should be pursued.

As I can find no example in humanity to answer this delicate area of knowledge's destiny concerning being studied, I will look elsewhere. I will look to a realm of fantasy that has two cultures that have decided on this subject. One which decided not to study the genetic code that all life has in depth, and one which not only studied it, but went on to create new creatures with the knowledge. I present to for the purpose of study, the world of CyantiaI, as shown by Tiffany Ross. This world is inhabited by several species of genetically engineered sentient beings that were created by a race that then went extinct for unknown reasons shortly afterwards. In particular, I will focus on the two societies of the Wolf and the Fox. In the beginning, both societies lived together till their views on this subject forced them apart.

The Wolf society has taken the view towards genetics that it is a field to be studied for the good of society, but no further. They have studied the basics of it, what happens to genetic material in certain life processes, and have done some research into what happens when certain genetic sequences are combined. But they have gone no farther. Other than that which will help a medical problem, their genetic technology is basic at best. They do not create clones or designer beings. This decision was brought to by their ethos of knowledge with care. They do not study a subject just because they can, but because it will bring a good benefit to their society. And as they are a peaceful, non-violent society, they do not and have not needed to study this area of science for war. Having balanced the benefits and the costs, they have pursued this science as far as they needed, and no farther.

They arrived at this decision early in their society. They decided that the knowledge that resulted in their creation was not worth the risks and responsibility that came with it, and hence would not support any extensive research that was without immediate benefit.

The Fox society, however, has completely devoted a large part of their culture to this subject. They not only research it, but have integrated it and the study of it into their society. A large portion of their workforce is/was devoted to the study of genetics, in the form of the company Exotica Genoworks. The chief employer of Fox citizens prior to a massive plague, this corporation proceeded to research and design customised creatures from any genetic code. As such, they created sentient beings, and calling them 'Living Art', actually sold them into temporaryII slavery to pay for their creation. Thus, there entire culture came to embrace the study of genetics and all it's implications. Scientists in EG then went on to study other branching sub-areas of genetics to their final end and began to develop biological weaponry in the forms of super-soldiers and bio-engineered diseases.

It should now be noted that the Fox's history has been one of a cycle of revolution, war, and quiet loathing peace. While the individual Fox citizen is not totally violent in nature, the religious, societal and government mentality of the Fox has been that they are a master race superior to all other societiesIII. Hence, the Fox government wholly supported EG's efforts into bio weaponry, until the plague. The plague was in fact a virus that had been designed by EG, and nearly made the Fox an extinct speciesIV.

By looking at EG's past and progress as an indicator to the Fox society's willingness to research genetics, it can be said that they pursued that knowledge intensely. This willingness to study genetics was one of the key factors in the Fox's decision to split from the Wolf society and start their own separate society. The ruling castes then promoted the research into all the fields of genetics.

The Wolf and the Fox societies both decided on this subject as they felt that their beliefs and needs dictated. The Wolf decided to not pursue knowledge needlessly while the Fox chose to pursue their research to it's finality. Both used what they thought their needs and what their beliefs were to make the decisions. And both had justification for this decision; the Wolf's justification being their ethos and the Fox's justification their belief of superiority.

Taking these societies methods, I deduce that the means, the How, of deciding what knowledge should be studied should be determined by studying the societies needs and beliefs. Through either of these aspects, the society must find justifications for either decision, and then decide which justification to follow. However, absence of justification for a decision is not justification against, and should not be considered such. Using this argument, I believe that humanity can resolve their conflict over this subject.

I Cyantia and all related subject matter is copyright of Tiffany Ross (Syke). This subject matter is used with permission, as seen at h ttp://nice.purrsia.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb .cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=6&t=001079. The main site for Syke's work can be found at http://www .cyantian.net.
II Typical slave contract of a EG alumni is 20 years of service. During this contract, the owner(s) were to bide by certain conditions of treatment, and at it's end the slave was to be released by their owner. This was not always the case.
III According to Syke, this was not the case at the beginning. Apparently, this mentality was used after the Fox separated from the other races of Cyantia by the Fox ruling classes to maintain order. It then escalated to the caste system which was implemented by their first king. Also, it should be noted that the Fox are largely agnostic in their religious beliefs.
IV The plague that afflicted the Fox cannot and will not be taken into context in this study, and is only mentioned to give a fuller view of Fox history. It is the opinion of this writer that the plague is the expression of Syke's view towards the acceptability of researching genetics and therefore a human opinion and I already explained that humans are divided on this subject.


This essay is for my TOK class, and so should not be redistributed at ALL. I only have this up as I am wondering if I left anything out. The Redshirt