Week 8 Assignment

Week 8 Assignment - laboratory was supposed to be working...

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Steve Shaffer Porter / deChadarevian History 3C (1D) 26 November 2007 Kantian Research The Double Helix by James Watson presents a rather revolutionary view of science. The way in which Watson approaches the problem of discovering the three-dimensional structure of DNA is cavalier, non-traditional, and often impolite. Watson recounts how he disobeyed the terms of his fellowships because he is not interested in the subject matter toward which they’re directed. In 20/20 hindsight, these decisions can be rationalized by Watson’s ultimate discovery of the double helical structure of DNA that was discovered by following his intuition and his passions. In some sense, it could be argued that his ends justify his means. It’s also important though to consider Watson’s actions in context. This was not a common way for scientists to act. In some sense, Watson’s contemporaries in the book are presented in a very utility-based way. The scientists are allocated to work on certain problems, just as Watson and Crick’s
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Unformatted text preview: laboratory was supposed to be working on the structure of proteins. Watson’s method is much different. He seems to see himself as having some greater purpose that justifies his inappropriate (in the context of the rules of the scientific community) actions. In fact what Watson and Crick did was in some sense unfair. There were rules within the scientific community that governed who was working on what project. By working within a system bound by these rules but playing outside them, Watson and Crick gained a tremendous advantage over their fellow scientists. If everyone had acted like the two of them, it is possible that another scientist or group of scientists could have discovered the structure first. The Double Helix presents two opposing views of science: the traditional one and Watson’s. And it does not come to any specific conclusions about either, but really only serves to prove that Emmanuel Kant would not be all too happy with James Watson....
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Week 8 Assignment - laboratory was supposed to be working...

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