Proponents of scientism believe that science is inherently moral. They are mistaken. Science on its own cannot tell us right from wrong. There is no scientific reason why we cannot perform an experiment which harms people, e.g., forcing them to smoke cigarettes in order to see how many they need to smoke before they develop smoker's cough. The reason such experiments are not carried out (any more) are not because we have investigated them enough — in fact science often requires replication of previous research using both observational and experimental data. In actuality, the reason such experiments are not carried out are because we have developed legal, moral, and ethical guidelines that supervene over scientific research. The main bodies that address such ethical implications to research are called ethics committees. The principles behind ethical approval for research are deeply philosophical, mainly based on a respect for human rights, informed consent, and so on. This does not mean that empirical contributions to the ethical practise of science are not valuable, but that scientific inquiry is governed by philosophical and ethical notions and not the other way round.
- The Facts Fetish, by Thomas Nagel
- The Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code : Human Rights in Human Experimentation: Human Rights in Human Experimentation, George J. Annas Edward R. Utley Professor of Health Law, Medicine Michael A. Grodin Associate Professor of Philosophy and Associate Director of Law, and Ethics Program both of the Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health