Programme / Plenary Session I. Are There Ethical Limits to What Science Can Achieve or Should Pursue?

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Day 2

Thursday / 21 NOV

9:30 - 11:00

Plenary session:
Plenary Session I. Are There Ethical Limits to What Science Can Achieve or Should Pursue?
Venue: Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Ceremonial Hall

The plenary lecture focused on the moral principles imposed on today’s scientific research and asked whether moral principles should regulate scientific development. Some of the considerations involved issues related to scientific research itself (research methods, authorship, conflict of interest, reporting and responsibility), while others dealt with research practices carrying prevailing possibilities for the whole of society. Remarkable opportunities such as genome editing, artificial intelligence, driverless cars, machine learning and deep learning create difficult and deep questions and raise concerns within society. While there is no one right answer, the scientific community needs to identify the risks and generate a dialogue with the public. Ethics and science need to progress at the same speed, and research projects must be in line with ethical considerations. Science should be an effective instrument in expanding human knowledge, solving the problem of violence and reducing human suffering. Scientific values thus need to be aligned with the values of society, and scientists must engage in a broader way to reduce anxiety and achieve consensus within the world. International collaborations need to be emphasised more than ever, and nations need to work together toward shared goals to advance scientific productivity. The scientific community has a leadership role, but science alone is not the answer; a collaboration of different representatives from society, including decision makers, is needed to ensure the appropriation of science.


The panel discussion emphasised that the application of ethical practices in science is a process. Experiments from the past will help in assessing the appropriateness of science’s approach in the future. Ethics should be the new foundation of scientific discovery.


Rapporteur: Adél Sepsi, Senior Research Associate, Centre for Agricultural Research