In this case, adhering to moral absolutism, Oppenheimer would not be expected to his utilize and abuse his knowledge of the atomic to possess destructive power, despite the fact that America was under attack by the Japanese. This is because he has an obligation to stick to his moral principles, regardless of the situation he is in. Therefore from a moral absolutist standpoint, acting upon his knowledge of science to create the ultimate weapon of mass destruction, as a means of justice and protection, can still be considered unethical.
Often scientists are so obstinate in their pursuit of scientific knowledge and ultimately status, that often they can neglect their “ethical responsibilities”, and in this case, Oppenheimer’s chose power and fame over his ethical responsibility, becoming the “destroyer of worlds”. Ultimately, it can be questioned whether scientists should have an ethical responsibility in the pursuit of knowledge, or whether the knowledge itself they acquire equips them with an ethical responsibility. Similarly to the role of the scientist, the role of a doctor can be another example of the natural sciences as a way of knowing.
Ethics could be considered, as often, like scientists, doctors may primarily be in search of fame and status and disregard their ethical responsibilities. For example, they may purposefully deceive their own patients, exaggerating the case, causing the patients to believe an expensive operation is needed. Other times, they may simply withhold the full truth to their patients, and tell white lies in fear that their patients may feel unsettled. Either way, it can be considered “unethical” for one to purposefully lie to another, regardless of the intent of the person telling the lie.
Another area of knowledge worth considering would be the human sciences. Using a personal example, I was once a witness to a crime involving a hit and run, where the driver clearly had a clean motive to end the life of a certain pedestrian crossing the road. Through using sense perception as a way of knowing, I managed to capture the car plate number of the van and had a clear ethical decision to make: to report it to the police or to ignore the case and pretend as if nothing had happened.
Being in this position where knowledge had almost leaped on to me in an instant, I was considered a knower. Fearing my knowledge and the actions I might have taken with this knowledge, the crime committers saw that the only way of ridding my knowledge was by ridding me as a whole. Often, it is even unclear as to which act is considered ethical. Catching my classmate cheat through sense of perception as a way of knowing in his Japanese test put me in an extremely ethical position.
It would have been considered “unethical” to ignore the situation as if nothing had happened, as it would not only be unfair to the others; yet reporting him to the teacher would have ended our friendship, and also have been considered “disloyal”. Hence, there are often situations where attaining knowledge places the person at an inescapable position, where his/her decisions will inevitably be considered as unethical. A counter claim in the human sciences would involve me witnessing two people holding hands, in which through sense perception, caused me to assume that they were a couple.
It was until later that I found out that the male was in fact in a relationship with another female. My knowledge of them holding hands did not hold me at any obligation, as I was oblivious to the full truth and was unaware that the male was cheating on his girlfriend. Hence in this case, knowledge here did not possess any ethical responsibility whatsoever. In conclusion, most often full knowledge to a particular issue does indeed possess an ethical responsibility.
Gaining full knowledge immediately involves the person in the situation, and he/she is often judged through his/her actions based on his/her newly attained knowledge. However, only possessing partial knowledge of a certain subject is insufficient to subject one to take ethical actions and decisions, as he/she is unaware of the full situation and shouldn’t be required to “correct” the “wrong”. It can almost be said that the person who is oblivious to the whole situation is considered “innocent”, while the person fully aware must fulfill his/her ethical responsibility to remain “innocent”.