In a word, “NO!” There is no way that scientists should have carte blanche in their experiments and there are several reasons why. We are all familiar with WWII and the war against Hitler’s Nazis. It is, in part, because of those Nazis that we need to reign in what scientists do.
Nazi doctors performed horrendous experiments on their Jewish, Gypsy and other prisoners at the death camps. One of the kinds of experiments involved twins. Dr. Joseph Mengele was fascinated with twins and he would personally meet the incoming trains to snag the twins as soon as he could.
After sending the twins to the experimental blocks the testing would soon begin. The nature of these experiments were such that I find them abhorrent to even think about not mention having to write about them. Suffice it to say that all of the experiments would end in the death of the twins. Should you desire to know more there is a plethora of information available on the Internet.
It wasn’t just the Nazi scientists who were guilty of atrocities, American doctors have been guilty of similar rotten behavior. In about 1932 there began what became known as the Tuskegee Experiments. It’s official name was “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male”. These experiments were less true scientific experiments but more inactive cruelty on the part of the scientists.
Scientists were studying poor, illiterate black men who had contracted syphilis. The idea was to study the natural progression of syphilis on about 400 black men. These men were not told of their diagnosis and were not given the right to informed consent. The study lasted until 1972 but it wasn’t stopped because the study was over, it was stopped because the press found out about the experiments and it created a huge controversy.
A number of participants had died during the experiments, several spouses of the men had contracted syphilis as did some of their children at birth.
Also, turning back to WW2 the Japanese had what was called Unit 731. This unit perpetrated monstrous crimes against humanity. Many were similar to what the Nazi’s did in Germany during the same period.
Given these instances, and there are many more that have occurred throughout the world, it is not simply morally necessary but it is just the right thing for society to keep its scientists under control.
The world has seen too much carnage and atrocities at the hand of scientists over the ages. Although most scientists enter the field with good intentions there are times when in the pursuit of knowledge that they go off the rails. It is the job of society to ensure science remains on a good and moral path. The best way to to this is through a framework of legislation to ensure scientists know just where society draws the line.