Another Unabomber


A chemistry student is dismissed after being found with books that describe some potentially threatening chemical recipes.


John, a 2nd year organic chemistry graduate student at a prestigious university, is caught with a copy of the Anarchists' Cookbook which contains information on how to make explosives from common household chemicals. Upon further investigation, lab officials found other books that describe how to synthesize illegal drugs and explosives from common chemicals. When questioned, John swears all these books are merely for knowledge and learning. He also swears that he has never done any of it in lab. Nevertheless, officials at the university dismiss him from the program because they fear that he might disgrace the chemistry department.

The question is: "who decides what type of information is allowable to be learned?"


Author: Reymundo Antonio Villa, (UPR Chemistry REU 2000).

This case is reprinted with permission from the cases found at the Center for Ethics in the Professions at the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez.

Reymundo Antonio Villa. . Another Unabomber. Online Ethics Center. DOI:.