Ethics in Chemistry

Ethics in Chemistry

Author: ChemViews Magazine

Members of the newly formed EuCheMS working party “Ethics in Chemistry collected and sorted ethically relevant aspects and challenges that chemists see themselves confronted with. Based on this, they assembled a position paper for chemists from chemists with recommendations for ethical actions.

The group identified two domains of ethical issues:

  1. Issues related to profession and research ethics that are relevant within the chemical community and lay mostly in the responsibility of the individual chemists. This is called the internal domain.
  2. Issues affecting the world outside of the institution chemistry, for example society and the environment. This is called the external domain.

There are two kinds of ethical problems that require different modes of action:

  1. Problems that are ethically clear. However, some chemists still do not know and/or follow ethics.
  2. Problems that require deeper insight and debate into the ethical assessment of it. Engaged chemists are needed.

The engagement with ethics is not only a fashion or optional spare-time activity, but pays off positively: For the chemist through increased academic and scientific success, higher credibility, and better career prospects; for the chemical community in terms of public trust and support, and sound translation from science to technology to economy and business; and for society in a more sustainable management of risks as well as social and environmental impacts.

The working party plans to establish a platform for chemists to collect, analyze, and communicate ethically relevant cases, to provide support and advice, to actively support and encourage whistle-blowing that can uncover many cases of fraud and misconduct, and to collaboratively create educational material.

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