Elements of Ethics for Physical Scientists

Elements of Ethics for Physical Scientists

By Sandra C. Greer

A guide to the everyday decisions about right and wrong faced by physical scientists and research engineers.
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A guide to the everyday decisions about right and wrong faced by physical scientists and research engineers.

This book offers the first comprehensive guide to ethics for physical scientists and engineers who conduct research. Written by a distinguished professor of chemistry and chemical engineering, the book focuses on the everyday decisions about right and wrong faced by scientists as they do research, interact with other people, and work within society. The goal is to nurture readers' ethical intelligence so that they know an ethical issue when they see one, and to give them a way to think about ethical problems.

After introductions to the philosophy of ethics and the philosophy of science, the book discusses research integrity, with a unique emphasis on how scientists make mistakes and how they can avoid them. It goes on to cover personal interactions among scientists, including authorship, collaborators, predecessors, reviewers, grantees, mentors, and whistle-blowers. It considers underrepresented groups in science as an ethical issue that matters not only to those groups but also to the development of science, and it examines human participants and animal subjects. Finally, the book examines scientifically relevant social issues, including public policy, weapons research, conflicts of interest, and intellectual property.

Each chapter ends with discussion questions and case studies to encourage debate and further exploration of topics. The book can be used in classes and seminars in research ethics and will be an essential reference for scientists in academia, government, and industry.


$40.00 X ISBN: 9780262036887 256 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 21 b&w illus.


  • Many of the ethical questions that confront physical scientists differ from those that confront life scientists, but until now, books on scientific ethics have focused on the life sciences. This excellent book fills a serious gap, and will be an invaluable resource for academic physical scientists.

    Andrea J. Liu

    Hepburn Professor of Physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pennsylvania

  • Never has there been such a comprehensive, timely, and thought-provoking book on the ethics of science. It is a must-read for scientists at any level to ensure the credibility of their scientific achievements. I highly recommend it!

    Geraldine Richmond

    Presidential Chair in Science and Professor of Chemistry, University of Oregon

  • Not just a textbook for a course on ethics but a very readable and comprehensive examination of the scientific enterprise, from the challenges facing graduate students to questions about the role of science in society that confront senior researchers and from interpersonal interactions to public policy.

    Charles M. Knobler

    Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, UCLA