Should a murderer be allowed to publish scientific papers?

C C Offline

KEY POINTS: In 1992, Valery Fabrikant murdered four of his colleagues at Concordia University in Montreal. He has since published nearly 60 scientific papers from prison.

His case highlights an increasingly common ethical dilemma in which a scientists' behaviors and beliefs are taken into account when considering the merits of their work. While one hopes that all scientists would be moral and upstanding individuals, this unfortunately isn't always the case. Is that a legitimate reason to suppress the knowledge they generate?

EXCERPT: Yves Gingras, a professor in the history and socio-politics of science at the University of Montreal, commented on the affair in a recent article published in the Journal of Controversial Ideas:

A professor of research ethics had also opposed this censorship by advising that individual crimes are punished by society and should not influence judgments on the validity of scientific results. A law professor added that ‘if the content of the article is sound, it should be published,’ as ‘it would be inconsistent with the goals of a university to attempt to suppress knowledge.’

Interestingly, even a former colleague of Fabrikant admitted to being ambivalent about the situation and said that, while he found it reprehensible that Fabrikant could continue to publish in prison, denying anyone the opportunity to publish valid research results went against a belief deeply rooted in the academic community.
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Need to stop using modern rocket technology if the origin really matters.
RainbowUnicorn Offline
if the murders were classed as an act of terrorism would the convict still be allowed to publish ?

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