Every rational discussion, that is, every discussion devoted to the search for truth, is based on principles, which in actual fact are ethical principles. I should like to share three of them.Karl Popper, The World of Parmenides, chapt 2, section 6, paragraph 5
It is remarkable that these principles are epistemological and, at the same time, also ethical principles. For they imply, among other things, toleration: if I can learn from you, and if I want to learn, then in the interest of truth I have not only to tolerate you but also to recognize you as a potential equal; the potential unity of man and the potential equality of all humans are prerequisites for our willingness to discuss matters rationally. Of further importance is the principle that we can learn from a discussion, even when it does not lead to agreement. For a rational discussion can help to shed light upon some of our errors.
- 1 The principle of fallibility. Perhaps I am wrong and perhaps you are right; but, of course, we may both be wrong.
- 2 The principle of rational discussion. We need to test critically and, of course, as impersonally as possible the various (criticizable) theories that are in dispute.
- 3 The principle of approximation to truth. We can nearly always come closer to the truth with the help of such critical discussions; and we can nearly always improve our understanding, even in cases where we do not reach agreement.
All this shows that ethical principles form the basis of science. The most important of all such ethical principles is the principle that objective truth is the fundamental regulative idea of all rational discussion. Further ethical principles embody our commitment to the search for truth and the idea of approximation to truth; and the importance of intellectual integrity and of fallibility, which lead us to a self-critical attitude and to toleration. It is also very important that we can learn in the field of ethics.
See also chapt 2 Addendum 2 titled: Some Principles for a New Professional Ethics Based on Xenophanes' Theory of Truth