Preview Response

Justice / Physical & Biological Sciences

Ian Hutchinson

Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)


In science and engineering/technology education these days there is a renewed emphasis on Ethics. But most universities have little idea how to address the need in a way that relates the topic to the major interests of science and engineering students. There are experimental programs growing in different institutions; but it’s quite a puzzle within the context of a strong trend towards professional preparation and away from intellectual development and the formation of educated citizens, as being expected from a college education.

I’m not sure whether Justice is a subset of Ethics, or vice versa. But obviously they are closely related to one another. In Ethics, the options for foundational principles are generally considered to be considerably wider than the two ways of thinking of Justice that Wolterstorff cites. I would want Nicholas in his full brief to address more thoroughly what the full range of Justice principles is, and how they relate to the range of Ethical principles.

Perhaps this is just a matter of there being a hierarchical classification that can be applied to this question, and he’s just addressing the top level of the hierarchy. But for an interested non-specialist, a Christian perspective on the whole heirarchy would be valuable, not just a choice of one particular view that justice must be based on right or due, and not on distribution of benefits. (Which I agree with, but seems a bit simplified.)