The duties of scientists

I recently read an article which talks about the duties of scientists (the article can be downloaded from here). While reading, I was reminded of my article which was written nearly two years ago. In it I argued that the underlying motivation for a scientist to write papers is the love of others, not the love of self:

A scientist write papers in order to share his research findings to other scientists from the same field, or even those from other related fields. By writing papers, he wishes to pass on important ideas to the scientific community, to maintain a continuation of the flow of ideas within the scientific community. In doing that, he does not seek recognition in the first place. On the contrary, he/she wishes that other scientists might pick up where he leaves and continue on from there. He wishes to instil interests in other scientists, with a full realisation that they might have greater resources or capabilities than he does, to pick up and continue on from where he leaves, and thus accelerating the advancement of knowledge and making greater benefit to the society. Contrary to the love of self, then, the motivation to write papers is the love of others.

In the former article, I found more elaboration on the purposes of writing papers. The discussion is connected to a still greater scope, i.e. the duties of scientists to the society. The writer divides the duties of scientists into primary and secondary duties. Their primary duty is to “directly contribute to the progress of science,” which is fulfilled “by communicating [their] findings to the relevant scientific community.” Whereas their secondary duties are “the evaluation of scientific work, the consolidation of accumulated knowledge in easily accessible forms such as surveys and books, and the education of future generations of researchers.” All of these, we can identify, are not done for the scientists’ own sake, but for others. It is when scientists recognize these duties that they begin to be scientists, so properly called. When a scientist fails to recognize these duties, he will do many sorts of things that will actually harm rather than benefit the progress of science and the community.

I am glad to know that there are professional scientists who still care to be faithful to their true and pure calling. As I said in my article, we are all here to be stewards of God, to serve Him and to serve one another in love. This, in principle, is all men’s calling. But in the midst of self-centeredness of the society we live in, it is very easy really to be swept away.


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