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Debate: Advances in science present a threat

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This House believes that advances in science present a threat

Contents

Background and Context of Debate:

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Moral hazard: Do advances in science corrode moral pillars of our society?

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Pro

  • Killing has never been so easy. Pressing one button, throwing one bomb from an aircraft, sending a biological weapon has never been less complicated. A terrorist can easily kill a hundred people without even having to come close to them. One can kill from a great distance and doesn't even necessarily have to see the damage caused. What is more, such technology is widely available all around the world. Therefore, science has enabled us to become even less human, because it made civilians very easy targets.
  • The spread of procrastination. Overall, advances in science help to spread procrastination. The popularity of online games, social networking sites and file-sharing sites is on the rise, which in effect means lowering our productivity. No longer are we truly able to focus on work as we are constantly answering our mobile phones, writing personal messages via Facebook and listening to music on Youtube.
  • The rise of cheating and swindle. Advances in science made swindling and cheating much easier. Copying and pasting became an everyday reality of many people, including scholars. Texting during exams, googling relevant facts under desks, taking pictures of test papers are just a tip of the iceberg.
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Con

  • Science increases our quality of life. Hadn't it been for modernization, we would still be hunting animals and living in caves. Modernization means that our priorities and needs change; we move from satisfying basic needs to satisfying more complex or abstract ones, such as justice, love, security, or morality. It means that progress naturally moves morality up on our priority ladder, and thus only thanks to science can we lead more than just "lives of quiet desperation".
  • Science and technology enables us to be more "human". Hadn't it been for modern technologies, we would be ignorant of the current situation in foreign countries. Thanks to science we are able to help in cases of natural disasters, intervene in cases genocides, send medicaments to people in need.
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Relationships and communication: Do modern technologies make us more distant and less friendly?

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Pro

  • Communication becomes impersonal. A vast majority of our current relationships is nurtured only via computers, social networking sites or chat rooms. No longer do young people go out and chat, they sit at home and write short messages instead. This of course damages not only the relationships themselves, but also ruins our ability to express ourselves in speech.
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Con

  • Social networking pages enhance communication. Contrary to popular belief, modern technologies enhance communication. It is much easier nowadays to keep in touch with a friend who is thousand miles away (via Facebook, Twitter, Myspace...). These websites make it easier to keep up with recent news, send quick messages, or chat. Moreover, social networking sites can be used as a way to share ideas and thus enhance cooperation (or even efficiency) within companies, classes, or groups of professionals.


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The rise of cybercrime: Does it outweigh all the benefits science has to offer?

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Pro

  • Cyberbullying and cyberstalking cause great harm. Advances in science have helped us to become more cruel, as they enable to entrap our victims in a vicious circle of being followed, harassed, threatened, and blackmailed. In addition to that, most countries do not even have proper anti-stalking legislation. That usually leaves victims in isolation, because they have no (legal) means to defend themselves.


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Con

  • The benefits science has to offer outweigh all the drawbacks. Thanks to advances in science we are able to cure a wide variety of diseases, we can travel to space, we are able to understand the world around us. Our quality of life is rapidly improving, as well as education, health care, etc.


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Environment: Do advances in science harm the environment, or do they rather help to protect it?

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Pro

  • Dependency on fertilizers. Modern agriculture relies heavily on fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and other modern products that in the long-run harm the environment.
  • Pollution. Due to our use of fossil fuels, development of plastics and other chemicals, our environment is being devastated. Given that certain environmental features may be irretrievably lost due to such "scientific" processes, it can be concluded that science can indeed be harmful.
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Con

  • Science is the ultimate watch-dog. Hadn't it been for science, we would be freely exacerbating natural resources, emitting CO2 emissions or killing endangered animals. Thanks to science, we are well aware of the risks and thus we are able to eliminate such harmful actions and - at the same time - implement necessary legislation in order to protect the environment (such as Kyoto Protocol). Hadn't it been for science, we would be ignorant of how much are we harming the nature.


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Food security: Do advances in science undermine countries´ ability to feed themselves?

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Pro

  • Genetically modified organisms enhance low-income countries' dependency on multinationals. Given that GM seeds are usually patented and have to be bought every year from a monopolistic company, any sudden environmental catastrophe can indebt farmers in low-income countries for many years to come, and thus decrease their ability to feed themselves.
  • Global warming is mostly caused by advances in science. The level of carbon dioxide emissions has increased mostly due to industrial processes. Factories, cars, airplanes - all of these mod cons contribute to climate change, which in effect leads to shifting weather patterns, thus harms countries' ability to sustainably feed themselves.
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Con

  • Fertilizers and modern machinery are essential for food security. Modern technologies are vital for securing food for growing populations, because they increase yields.
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Weapons: Do modern technologies make us less safe?

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Pro

  • Nuclear submarine accidents are a global hazard Numerous nuclear submarines have accidentally sunk. Some of these have fallen to the bottom of the ocean where they are never to be recovered. The problem with this is that the nuclear missiles on board are likely to leak radioactive materials into the environment, causing significant harm.
  • Science can be easily misused - with horrific consequences. Nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons that are being developed all around the world could cause great harm in "the wrong hands". Worse still, globalization has made proliferation of lethal weapons much easier and cheaper.


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Con

  • Mutual assured destruction (nuclear deterrence). "Deployment of strong weapons is essential to threaten the enemy in order to prevent the use of the very same weapons. The strategy is effectively a form of Nash equilibrium, in which both sides are attempting to avoid their worst possible outcome — nuclear annihilation." [1] This theory was proved effective during the Cold War.

(See also Debate: Abolition of nuclear weapons.)

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Public opinion: Where does the public opinion stand?

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Pro

  • People appreciate science. "In an official British survey of public attitudes to science in 2008, just over 80% of those asked said they were “amazed by the achievements of science”." [2]


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Con

  • People are not that much supportive. In an official British survey of public attitudes to science in 2008, only 46% of those asked "thought that “the benefits of science are greater than any harmful effect”." [3]


See also

External links and resources

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