Consider this statement:
Scientific inquiry is rooted in the desire to discover, but there is no discovery so important that in its pursuit a threat to human life can be tolerated.
Write a unified essay in which you perform the following tasks. Explain what you think the above statements means. Describe a specific situation in which a threat to human life might be tolerated in the pursuit of scientific discovery. Discuss what you think determines when the pursuit of scientific discovery is more important than the protection of human life.
The statement suggests that, although curiosity for knowledge is a trait that characterizes human beings, it is not a justification for scientific inquiries. Most obviously, when a human life is threatened during an attempt in scientific discovery, the attempt is unacceptable regardless of its goal and procedure. One could quickly think of the horrific story of Frankenstein, where an experiment to raise the dead lead to devastation and destruction. Modern biotechnology research sometimes carry the same connotation, when lives of human subjects or even the public are sometimes in risk in the experiments. For example, the statement would argue strongly against the revitalization of extinct viruses for biochemical research.
The statement seems to suggest that any risk to human life is intolerable in the pursuit of knowledge, but such a stringent conclusion could cause much harm to humanity as well. The clear example would be the termination of the majority of medical research. Any new medication or medical procedure would involve a certain level of risk to test subjects or early users when it is first introduced. Without medicine, human beings would suffer from countless diseases and injuries, defeating the purpose of the statement to protect human lives.
Scientific research should not be justified based on the virtue of knowledge, as the statement suggests, but it should not be abandoned in the name of risk elimination either. Rather, a rigorous examination to evaluate the importance of the potential discovery, the risk involved in the procedure and how it is managed, and the likelihood that this procedure can achieve its goals could determine whether the experiment involving risk to human lives is acceptable. Only when the goal of the experiment is sufficiently important (for example, finding the cure for cancer), the risk is reasonably low (low statistical mortality rate in animal tests), and the risky procedure can reasonably be expected to achieve the said goal can the experiment be justifiable.