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Authors: Di Capua, G.* 
Peppoloni, S.* 
Title: Evento sismico ed etica della responsabilità nell’avanzamento delle conoscenze scientifiche
Issue Date: Sep-2009
Keywords: Geoethics
Scientific knowledge
Subject Classification05. General::05.03. Educational, History of Science, Public Issues::05.03.99. General or miscellaneous 
Abstract: Ethics takes advantage of the experience. Based on the experience, man directs criteria and individual and social behaviours, trying to make more responsible actions in the historical and environmental context in which he lives, with the goal of a real progress of mankind. The experience increases in times of crisis, when the available tools become insufficient to provide a further progress and we are forced to consider the level of civilization attained. In passing through points of rupture, the equilibrium of consolidated and shared beliefs can enter into crisis, making a change indispensable. The severity of a seismic event, such as that occurred in L'Aquila on 6 April 2009, in addition to the emotional impact produced, requires a deep reflection from our community, because of the scientific questions that necessarily it raises, questions that may no longer be evaded by a debate, almost entirely focused on the issues of seismic hazard. The earthquake is an breakage event: in the Earth's crust (physical phenomenon), on the construction (technical aspects and socio-economic repercussions), in the community (psycho-emotional and anthropological effects), in the consciences (ethical implications). A seismic event represents a verification moment: inside the community, we have to face atavistic fears and bring into question acquired certainties, trying to measure the degree of cohesion and the response to this disturbance; in technical field, we compare the structural capacity of the buildings with the seismic demand, and from this comparison we can understand the real level of safety of building systems, used materials and predisposed norms; in scientific field, researchers verify the knowledge elements of phenomena, interpretation models, adopted strategies and followed research lines. Therefore, the earthquake may represent an opportunity for the scientific knowledge advancement and the human progress. However, it is not so obvious that this will happen. The history of the science teaches us that few researchers are be able to catch the new in what everyone can see. Other scientists continue to discuss, very slowly changing their ideas regarding the new trends, that those few researchers have identified and redefined. After this event, what can change? And, above all, what will have to change? Some concepts commonly used in the study and mitigation of seismic risk (prediction, prevention, emergency, laws, popularization) will be considered, in the attempt to seize new guidelines for the defence against earthquakes.
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