Scientists who profess utilitarianism (which can be summed up in Bentham’s phrase “it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong.”) often accuse those who oppose unethical practices, such as embryonic stem cell research, of standing in the way of scientific progress. Doerflinger argues that it is in fact the disregard shown by many scientists to moral norms that has impeded progress. For example, many pressed ahead with embryonic stem cell research as a way of ‘pushing boundaries’ despite indications that adult stem cells in fact offered the best possibilities for new treatments. Ideology triumphed over good science.
Doerflinger’s address reminds us that pursuing the moral good will always lead to progress in all areas of life while doing evil that good may come of it will only ever end in greater evils.