Discuss about the Researcher Illegally Shares Millions of Science Papers Free Online to Spread Knowledge.
Ethics is a specific branch of philosophy, which eventually includes the systematization, defending and recommendation of relevant concepts of correct and incorrect conduct (Peters, 2015). Ethics helps in resolving each and every question of the morality of human beings by simply defining the major concepts of correct or incorrect, crime or justice, good or bad and vice or virtue. There are three most important areas in ethics, namely meta ethics, normative ethics and applied ethics (Dewey, 2016). The meta ethics mainly deals with the theory and the moral propositions. The truth-values are determined from meta ethics. The normative ethics deals with the practical means for the determination of the moral action course. The third area of ethics is the applied ethics that mainly deals with the concern of permission of any particular person, working in any typical situation (Fromm, 2013). There are typically four classical theories of ethics, which include Utilitarianism theory, Deontology theory, Virtue theory and Contract theory.
The following essay outlines a brief discussion on a real time case study on a researcher, who illegally shares millions of science papers, absolutely free online for spreading knowledge (Crane & Matten, 2016). This essay helps to understand the four classical theories of ethics for the above mentioned situation. The essay explains about the ethical dilemma, the situation has within it. This essay even describes about the information and communication technology.
A Russian researcher had made over 48 million articles of journal completely free available in online for providing and spreading good knowledge to all people, who are accessing Internet (MacDonald, 2018). She was claimed for providing free journal articles illegally and when was questioned for this, she refused to shut down the site in spite of receiving a lawsuit and court injunction from Elsevier. Elsevier is one of the best publishers in the world. This site was basically created in the year 2011 by popular neuroscientist namely, Alexandra Elbakyan (MacDonald, 2018). She was extremely frustrated upon the fact that she was unable to afford all the articles required for the research. As these articles went viral, thousands of articles were downloaded everyday in the entire world. At the end of 2015, the New York district court ordered to shut down the site forever. However, Alexandra Elbakyan did not want to shut it and fought against the law. According to her, knowledge should be given to everyone absolutely free of cost. She claimed that no matter how much less a person earns, he or she has the birth right to obtain knowledge (MacDonald, 2018). World’s leading universities like Cornell and Harvard have already admitted that the scientific journals or papers are extremely high in price and people with less income and less financial support cannot afford them.
The Utilitarianism theory is the first and the foremost theory of the four classical theories of ethics. The main factor of this theory is that it supports the best action, which can eventually maximize the utility of any particular situation (Durkheim, 2013). The main advantage of this theory is that it only allows the best activity of any situation and thus can bring excess utility. This particular theory can also be claimed as the perfect version of the theory of consequentialism. This consequentialism theory states that all the consequences of a particular action can be understood on the basis of correct or incorrect. The theory of utilitarianism takes all the interest of every human being with equal distribution (Niebuhr, 2013). In this particular case study, a researcher, namely, Alexandra Elbakyan has made millions of scientific journals and articles available on the Internet, completely free of cost. When she was asked for the reason, she said that she believed that knowledge should be given to all individuals, irrespective of their financial income (Peters, 2015). It is often seen that students with less income cannot afford journals or articles as they are of excess cost. According to Utilitarianism theory, one should take the best action from any particular situation and take that action that can bring maximum utility to the situation. When this particular case study is matched with the Utilitarianism theory, it is being observed that the researcher was not unethical (Hayry, 2013). She did something with the intension of providing free knowledge to all the persons. Giving knowledge to students, who cannot afford education or expensive journals, is not at all unethical. Therefore, according to Utilitarianism theory, Alexandra Elbakyan was ethical.
The Case Study
The second theory of the four classical theories is the Deontology theory. Deontology theory is different from the Utilitarianism theory. This particular theory always evaluates the moral activities of any situation on the basis of rules (Conway & Gawronski, 2013). This means, if an activity does not follow the rules or regulations, it is considered to be extremely unethical, irrespective of the fact that the action can bring utility to the situation. These rules can be either ethical, legal or even moral rules. In this particular case study, a Russian researcher, Alexandra Elbakyan has made millions of scientific journals and articles available on the Internet, completely free of cost (Peters, 2015). She did not have any wrong intensions; however, she did everything illegally and according to Deontology theory, she is not being ethical. Although the action has brought intense utility to the situations and many students or persons have downloaded the articles completely free of cost, it will not be counted as an ethical act and she is claimed as unethical (Fromm, 2013). Therefore, according to Deontology theory, the Russian researcher is unethical.
Virtue theory is the third distinct theory of the four classical theories. This theory is again a part of normative theory of ethics. Virtue ethics mainly focuses on the morality of character and mind (Shafer-Landau, 2012). The ethicists always describe about the definition and the nature of the virtues and every other problem. The virtue ethics is the characteristics of the character of a human being. In simple words, if an individual has a character that is ethical in nature, it is bound that he or she will be taking ethical decisions in his life. Similarly, if an individual is unethical in nature, it is bound that he or she will be taking unethical decisions in his life (Van Hooft, 2014). In this particular case study, the Russian researcher, Alexandra Elbakyan has made millions of scientific journals and articles available on the Internet, entirely free of cost. She did this activity illegally. She had the intension of providing knowledge or education to all the persons without any financial barrier. She was correct in her terms and thought for the benefit of all persons (Crane & Matten, 2016). She was extremely ethical in her character and theory. Therefore, it can be said according to Virtue ethics, this researcher did not do anything wrong and she does not have an unethical character.
The fourth theory of the Classical theories of ethics is the Contract theory. This theory states that one person should be extremely ethical when he or she is involved in any particular contract in either business or real life (De Jasay, 2012). Being ethical will justify his or her character and it can be claimed that whether he is ethical or not. However, this particular theory is not applicable to the case study of the Russian researcher Alexandra Elbakyan as no contract is involved in this case study.
Therefore, from the above discussion it can be concluded that ethics is the typical subdivision of philosophy that includes the recommendation, defending and systematization, of the applicable concepts of accurate and inaccurate conducts. Every question or dilemma can be easily resolved with the help of ethics. These questions or dilemmas mainly are for the human morals by simple definition of the most important concepts of accurate or inaccurate, good and bad, crime and justice and even vice and virtue. The three most significant areas in case of ethics are the normative ethics, the Meta ethics and the applied ethics. The normative ethics majorly deals with all the realistic ways for the relevant determination of moral action. The second area that is metaethics deals with all the moral propositions and theory. Determination of truth values are done from the meta ethics. The third distinct area for ethics is applied ethics, which majorly deals with all the concerns for permission of all individuals, who are working in a tough situation. Four classical ethical theories are present that involve the Utilitarianism theory, the Deontology theory, the Virtue theory and the Contract theory. The above discussion discusses about a case study, occurred in real time that took place in the year 2015, where a researcher published millions of scientific journals available in the Internet absolutely free of cost. This report has described about the ethical or non ethical aspects of this particular case study. The four popular classical theories of ethics, which are Utilitarianism theory, Deontology theory, Virtue theory and Contract theory or the case study are also mentioned here. The above essay has given a clear view of the ethical dilemmas of the mentioned case study of Alexandra Elbakyan.
Conway, P., & Gawronski, B. (2013). Deontological and utilitarian inclinations in moral decision making: a process dissociation approach. Journal of personality and social psychology, 104(2), 216.
Crane, A., & Matten, D. (2016). Business ethics: Managing corporate citizenship and sustainability in the age of globalization. Oxford University Press.
De Jasay, A. (2012). Social contract, free ride. Liberty Fund
Dewey, J. (2016). Ethics. Read Books Ltd.
Durkheim, E. (2013). Professional ethics and civic morals. Routledge.
Fromm, E. (2013). Man for himself: An inquiry into the psychology of ethics (Vol. 102). Routledge.
Hayry, M. (2013). Liberal utilitarianism and applied ethics. Routledge.
MacDonald, F. (2018). Researcher Illegally Shares Millions of Science Papers Free Online to Spread Knowledge. ScienceAlert. Retrieved 11 January 2018, from https://www.sciencealert.com/this-woman-has-illegally-uploaded-millions-of-journal-articles-in-an-attempt-to-open-up-science
Niebuhr, R. (2013). Moral man and immoral society: A study in ethics and politics. Westminster John Knox Press.
Peters, R. S. (2015). Ethics and Education (Routledge Revivals). Routledge.
Shafer-Landau, R. (Ed.). (2012). Ethical theory: an anthology(Vol. 13). John Wiley & Sons.
Van Hooft, S. (2014). Understanding virtue ethics. Routledge.
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