THE RELATIONS BETWEEN SCIENCE AND ETHICS

Abstract

MUCH appreciation is no doubt widely felt for Dr. Waddington's statement that, if various modern theses are correctly interpreted, ethical judgments are allowed by them to be “statements of the same kind as scientific statements”. One also agrees with his view that the putting forward of these theses has somehow persuaded many people of a lack of any link between science and ethical systems. This seems a natural temporary reaction belonging to what Samuel Alexander called the deanthropizing phase of thought. For millennia, men have sought authority for social codes in anthropomorphs created by their imagination outside the evolutionary sequence and empowered to insert into it new items—dispensations they have been called—from time to time. The comparative method in the study of man, outstandingly represented by Frazer, has vividly suggested that what were held to be impregnable rock–fortresses of traditional belief are, rather, erratics in the moraines of folk–lore. The old authority has gone. It withered too, at a time when an individualist age was obsessed with the idea of Nature red in tooth and claw, and even a Huxley could suggest that men's ethical systems must stand in antagonism to the cosmic process.

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FLEURE, H. THE RELATIONS BETWEEN SCIENCE AND ETHICS. Nature 148, 278–279 (1941). https://doi.org/10.1038/148278b0

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