The success of any organization carries with it the need to continuously redefine its strategy in order to progress. There is inevitably a tension between change and stability, and in the first article in this issue, Paul Wymer looks critically at the work of the Wellcome Trust.
Human dignity is the central consideration in the two articles by Orly Shachar and Herbert Pietschmann, although the authors approach their subjects from quite different perspectives. Arguing from a philosophical point of view, Pietschmann follows Kant in showing that human dignity cannot be reduced to scientific rationality. Even though we look to science for the best possible treatment of disease and illness, the human element must be included. Orly Shachar looks at the language used by physicians and journalists and how this impacts on women who need fertility treatment. On the one hand, the problem may be seen in terms of poor physician-patient communication, but on the other hand, it goes much deeper and requires the need for a fundamental change in mind-set by medical practitioners.
A particular topic that I would like to encourage debate about is the inclusion of philosophy courses in the undergraduate (and postgraduate) science curriculum in universities. This is not just to try to improve the communication skills of future scientists (an important end in itself), but to enhance the scientific rigour of future research. Galili and Hazan review the uses and advantages of including history and philosophy of science within physics courses at high school and university levels. I hope that this debate will be continued in future issues of our Forum.
Open Day at Ivory Towers? Paul Wymer
The Invisible Female Patient Orly Shachar
Merits and Limits of applying the Scientific Method to Human Society Herbert Pietschmann
Experts’ Views on using History and Philosophy of Science in the Practice of Physics Instruction Igal Galili and Amnon Hazan