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GRE Issue 23 - Government Should Place Few Restrictions On Science - With A Free Essay Review
"Governments should place few, if any, restrictions on scientific research and development." Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the recommendation and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, describe specific circumstances in which adopting the recommendation would or would not be advantageous and explain how these examples shape your position.
The statement simply claims that governments should place few, if any, restrictions on scientific research and development. From my perspective, in some fields, putting few restrictions can have a positive influence on research and development since scientists have much freedom without government interference; however, when it comes to other fields, placing few restrictions is more likely to lead to some developments that conflict with laws or traditional moral values.
It goes without saying that some scientific fields, such as astronomy and geology, will develop well with few restrictions. Take astronomy for example. Unlike biology whose development sometimes violates moral codes of current society, astronomy is little likely to conflict with social traditions or established laws. Also, astronomy, a study of the universe, needs more freedom than other subjects partly because scientists in this field are in face of lots of uncertainty. Due to unlikely accessibility to other planets and the lack of knowledge of universe, astronomers are likely to establish a new theory to replace a rather older one which takes the place of another for a short time. In this case, scientists might even need imagination based on collected information to break conventional views or theories. Thus, in these fields, governments need not to place too many restrictions on research and development because it will not only provide freedom with scientists, but also save financial and human resources spent on establishment of unnecessary restrictions.
However, according to the statement, “few” does not mean “none”. So, maybe one or two restrictions should be made for the sake of controlling budget or expense, especially when governments’ revenues are not abundant and must be used in more exigent projects.
In contrast to statement, some fields including biology, medicine and even chemistry, should be placed on some strict restrictions since some scientists do some experiments which violate laws and destroy ethics and morality. Biology, for example, may pose a serious threat to societies when it comes to the development of cloning. It is widely acknowledged that cloning human will engender lots of social problems and this technology could be used by terrorists to cause chaos. Without some regulations to rigidly control certain aspects of biology, therefore, many complications will occur in the future. Medicine and chemistry are other persuasive examples. On one hand, new drugs whose efficiency and safety are not validated are sold to patients untimely, which might causes severe side effects. In order to prevent this event from happening, some regulations must be worked out. On the other hand, some immoral chemists may do some experiments on humans for the purpose of making new chemical weapons. Such actions may occur if there are no such regulations to restrict it. Thus, governments should place some restrictions on scientific research and development with respect to certain fields.
Admittedly, some regulations must be enacted, but governments should avoid put some infeasible and unrealistic restrictions on these fields. Hence, a better way to avoid this situation is to have some discussions before making any regulation.
In conclusion, governments can put few restrictions on some fields while putting more restrictions on others. Besides, in order to let all fields improve greatly, governments should think comprehensively before establishing regulations.
In your introduction, you claim that in some fields "putting few restrictions can have a positive influence" because "scientists [would] have much freedom." That seems like begging the question to me (i.e., the reason [freedom] is just a repetition of the claim [no restrictions] and not a justification of it). Perhaps that is why you say that the claim in some cases "goes without saying." If we adopt a historical perspective, then your example of astronomy as a science unlikely "to conflict with social traditions" would appear strange. At the beginning of modern science, astronomy, more than any other discipline, was at odds with prevailing ideas, and some of the astronomers, such as poor Bruno, suffered mightily for contradicting religious beliefs. The history of the development of astronomy demonstrates one of the dangers of interference with science; it tends to retard scientific development. That was certainly the case in astronomy, with scientists often delaying publication of their findings in order to appease those in power. Your essay doesn't really deal with the disadvantages of interference, and I think doing so would be one way to avoid the problem I noted at the beginning. That is, the argument that government should not interfere because not interfering means greater freedom for scientists is a less specific version of the argument that governments should not interfere because doing so can have a serious negative impact on the timely development of scientific theories.
The argument in favor of restrictions in certain fields (biology, chemistry, medicine) seems reasonable enough, with the exception of the example of "human cloning" (the problem with that example is just that it is vague with respect to the social ills that might be caused by cloning, and especially vague with respect to the idea, to me very odd, that cloning might be used by terrorist to create chaos). I think you ought to try to take these examples further. Your discussion at present is a bit one-sided. Do restrictions against cloning have a negative impact as well as positive one? Do regulations impose significant obstacles to the timely and cost-effective development of treatments?