Skip to Main Content
In this essay I draw on the history of engineering and research ethics, and on the way priorities in those disciplines were established in the United States, to discuss how we should teach social responsibility in research ethics. Following Deborah Johnson, I use the term ?social responsibility? in the sense of having a moral obligation ?to protect the safety and welfare of society? -.1 I focus on one obstacle in teaching this aspect of research ethics: the long-standing belief that social responsibility is not the primary concern of scientists because they produce basic knowledge rather than technology. In this view, scientific knowledge is seen as neutral, neither good nor bad, and those who apply this knowledge, mainly engineers, should bear the primary social responsibility for its use.