Nicholas Danne
University of South Carolina
To teach the ethics of science to science majors, I follow several teachers in the literature who recommend “persona” writing, or the student construction of dialogues between ethical thinkers of interest. To engage science majors in particular, and especially those new to academic philosophy, I recommend constructing persona dialogues from Henri Poincaré’s essay, “Ethics and Science”, and the non-theological third chapter of Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, Laudato si. This pairing of interlocutors offers two advantages. The first is that science students are likely to recognize both names, since Poincaré appears in undergraduate mathematics and physics textbooks, and because Francis is an environmentalist celebrity. Hence students show more interest in these figures than in other philosophers. The second advantage is that the third chapter of Laudato si reads like an implicit rebuttal of Poincaré’s essay in many respects, and so contriving a dialogue between those authors both facilitates classroom discussion, and deserves attention from professional ethicists in its own right. In this paper, I present my own contrived dialogue between Francis and Poincaré, not for assigning to students as a reading, but as a template for an effective assignment product, and as a crib sheet for educators to preview the richly antiparallel themes between the two works.
Keywords engineering ethics  ethics of technology  environmental ethics  persona writing
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DOI 10.1007/s13194-021-00385-2
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