Scientists and other researchers should focus their research on areas that are likely to benefit the greatest number of people.

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  • Cinqi
    University: YangZhou University
    Nationality: Chinese
    September 4, 2020 at 9:09 am

    Scientists and other researchers should focus their research on areas that are likely to benefit the greatest number of people.

    The claim that scientific researchers should focus on whether their research can make great contribution to most human beings seems compelling on the surface. From my point of view, however, scientists can’t just be motivated by the ultimate goal of successfully benefit most people, but by their personal interest.

    A fundamental reason why I disagree with the recommendation is that, for most scientific inquiry, the result of those research is always uncertain, at least for the foreseeable future. For example, when the Riemannian geometry was born, people rarely know how much merit it would have, and Riemannian was not initially invent it in order to benefit most of people as well. But it turns out, the Riemannian geometry is the mathematic foundation of the general theory of relativity. Similarly, many mathematicians whose mainly study is number theory, can hardly prove that whether their studies will produce practical results in the foreseeable future or not. Also, no one can guarantee whether those researches can promote scientific progress in essence. Another example is that scientists who explore the ultimate theory of universe (e.g., String Theory and M-Theory), even if their theory is correct, cannot benefit of the present, even generations. However, it may bring great benefits in the distant future. For this reason of sustainable development for human race, we cannot simply ignore such researches. Discoveries and theories list above seem to have no direct impact on the well-being of most people, but they will ultimately enlighten people and benefit social progress. After all, most of us lack the sense of what kind of research can benefit us in a long term.

    Another reason why we shouldn’t set an established goal for research is that, it is our human nature to pursuit something we are truly interested. If a scientist’s interest or talent just does not coincide with what seems to be of most people’s interest, strictly following this recommendation would result in a waste of the scientist’s talent. On the contrary, scientists who devote themselves in the field of academic inquiry, most are motivated by great interest. And it is such enthusiasm keeps them persistently seek truth without flagging. Marie Curie and her husband could be a best example, in order to achieve their inquiry in nuclear physics, their health was badly hurt by long-term accumulation of radiation. It is hard to imagine, except enthusiasm, what else factor can propel them for such firmness. From this instance, we can easily conclude that it is interest that has been pushing the boundaries of science, not the established goals.

    Moreover, if all scientific researches have to obey the final goal of benefit people, then scientists may become too utilitarianism, thus will block the progress of fundamental science. Scientific inquiries which can produce instant effect are limited, if scientists just stick to study those limited projects, whereas with useful outcomes from a few researchers. Some more researchers who failed to make progress in this field but could take great contributions in other fields, their talents will surely be wasted. Causes stagnation of science development. For example, if no one studies the latest theory of Physics, then the human scientific progress will meet ceiling quickly.

    To sum up, I totally disagree with this statement from three aspects, first, it is uncertain for some researches’ result, so we cannot generally treat them as “non-benefit studies”. Second, interest is the base stone of scientific inquiries, not goals. Third, people cannot set goals that force scientists become so utilitarianism that makes adverse effects in whole scientific progress.

    September 9, 2020 at 8:56 pm

    Score: 50.9


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