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Too Valuable to Die?

Silke Ackermann (Director, Museum of the History of Science), Liz Bruton (Co-curator, “Dear Harry”… Henry Moseley: A Scientist Lost to War) and Nigel Biggar (Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, University of Oxford) discuss the ethics of scientists going to war in response to the current Museum of the History of Science exhibition exploring the life and legacy of talented English physicist Henry Moseley.

When Moseley was killed on the battlefield at Gallipoli in August 1915, newspapers on all sides of the conflict denounced his tragic death with one English newspaper headline proclaiming that Moseley was "too valuable to die". Moseley's death contributed to a changing attitude to scientists and science going to war with scientists and engineers being kept away from the frontline. Instead the work of scientists and engineers - research and expertise - is used to meet military goals with scientific research increasingly relying on military funding.

In this discussion, the speakers discuss the ethics of scientific research being used for military ends as well as whether scientists being held back from frontline service means others serve and die in their place.