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Wt «** j
er-repression — which ple usually mean by the word repression — that with emotional phenomena sires,
emotional maladjustment. So also does
However, under- and over-repression
are not Over-repression reduced ability, or total
social but individual maladies.
results in a
explore the impulse to pornography
denying human sexuality. We are, willy-nilly, brought to the overriding question of the mod-
deeply embedded in the psyche. can sometimes be treated successfully by psychiatry, so far as I know, exposure to erotica, or pornography, is not reckoned by the profession to be an essential part of the treatment. On the contrary, although the over-repressed individual might well become a voyeur, such exposure can only aggravate his sexual frustration. No matter how "permissive"
how much deceit can we afford?
Making the world safe for pornography
Turning ... to the substantive issue concerning the social consequences of the spread of the erotic and the pornographic, two opinions in favour are offered by "permitters." The strong opinion is that it is positively beneficial, and the more cautious opinion is that the growing availability of such stuff does no harm or, more cautious still, that it does no more harm than a number of other things that are socially
to enjoy physically the sexual act. lie
This is as good a place as any to remind the reader that the terms "permissiveness" and the "permissive society," even where they are restricted to sexual aspects, are misleading. The "permissiveness" being debated is that which, if extended, initially offers the public increased opportunities for excitation, not for gratification. For nobody in authority is challenging any person's right to engage in sexual activity with other persons in any way he wishes, as often as he wishes, with willing adult partners. Permission to indulge and enjoy is not the issue at all. The permissiveness that is at issue is whether complete license should be extended to writers, impresarios, actors, and film producers to depict sexual activity of any variety in public places, and permission for the public to pay and stare.
the cinema or theatre becomes,
tion eludes the victim
no matter how
depicted, sexual gratifica-
of over-repression. While
those well-enough adjusted to enjoy sexual activnot unduly arrested by erotic images, these can have a pathological attraction for the sexually unfulfilled. Some of the starved inmates of Nazi concentration camps were so far ob-
sessed with visions of food that,
and offered food, they would not eat it. They either gazed at it rapturously or sought to hoard it. The parallel with orgasmic starvation may be thought forced, but not by all psychiatrists. Yet hope springs eternal in the human breast, and if repeated failure depresses, it can also feed an inner fury that seeks
of sensation. But drinking the salt water of pop porno gazing fixedly at live shows contemplating photos of swollen proportions, staring orifices, and bizarre postures act on the victim's fevered imagination, generating exaggerated visions of sexual gratification quite unrelated to that which is naturally into the citadels
— so adding further to his frustrations
and tempting him into sado-masochistic practices, or into intemperate attacks on his image of a grudging "establishment," in the vain hope of release. To sum up on the alleged virtues of "permissiveness" in contrast to the so-called toxicity of "repression," if the stricter proprieties of the .
Victorians presented no real barrier to sexual adventures (though one was well advised to
have decent regard to the establishment hypocrisies of society to get the best out of it), it is perhaps unnecessary to seek "liberation" by the defiant cultivation of sexual "permissiveness." What is more to the point, the causes of frigoveridity and sexual despair are manifold repression being rather a loose way of referring to some of them. And there is no evidence whatsoever that their incidence has diminished along with the growth of erotica and pornography. Frigidity and other forms of sexual failure may yield to medical and psychiatric skills. They do not yield to public manifestations of increased
"sexual permissiveness," though they are likely to be aggravated by them.
The sex lobby
of sexual content in literature and public entertainment can do no harm. To insist that, say, a reading of literature in general can never do harm is to take up an indefensible position. For it is commonly believed by those who condemn censorship of art and literature that they can do a powerful lot of good. Taken at its face value such a position that the spread
to the belief that, although art and
ature can do a great deal of good, they can never do
any harm vincing.
— reassuring, perhaps, but hardly con-
They knew better than this in Antiqwould ban poets from the ideal city it was because, aware of the power of art for good and evil in society, he did not wish to risk uity. If Plato
the stability of the social order in order to entertain the populace. It would be more convincing, then, if those favouring the abolition of all censorship explicitly acknowledged the influence of art and
and also of the screen, theatre, and television, in moulding people's behaviour and character. They could reasonably add that, in any particular case, the resultant effect might not be clearly perceived; that one might not always be able to determine in advance whether the impact of certain works would be benign or otherwise. But they could hardly avoid the conclusion that continued exposure to some sorts of art and literature was better than, or worse than, others in their effect on the character of people and, therefore, on society as a whole. literature,
The pornographic society It is time to bring some thought to bear on the harmful consequences society may suffer if cur-
rent trends toward increasing pornography continue. In order to avoid tedious qualifications at every turn in the argument, let us project existing trends and think in terms of an emergent "Pornographic Society," one in which all existing restraints have vanished. There are no legal checks on any form of erotic experience, "nat.
ural" or "unnatural," and
to place, time, scale, or
of what today would be
in the depiction
and placed on
called the carnal
lascivious. Neither are there
the facilities for autoeroticism, or for participat-
ing in any activity, heterosexual, homosexual,
or incestuous, sado-masochistic, fetishor just plain cruel. Provided actors, audi-
ence, and participants are willing, provided there is a market for the "product," no objection is entertained. .
Can pornography be
part of the
time to turn about in our minds some of the of the problem posed by the concept of the Pornographic Society; namely, whether such a society is compatible with the Good Life, any It is
allowing that family
will continue in
are we to make of the efpsychology of his apprehension of a society obsessed with carnal indulgence? It has been alleged, occasionally, that children are immune to pornography; that, up to a certain
it does not signify. Though this allegation cannot draw on any evidence since they are not in fact exposed, when young, to sexual circuses, we need not pursue this controversial question here because, presumably, there does come an age when they begin to understand the significance of what is happening about them. It is appropriate, then, to question the effect on the child's emotional life, in particular his regard
and feelings for
not just possible- that the child needs not only to love his parents but to esteem them? In his first gropings for order and security in a world of threatening impulse, does he not need to look up to beings who provide assurance, who appear to him as "good" and wise and just? Will such emotional needs not be thwarted in a society of uninhibited sexual device? I do not pretend to know the answers to these questions, but no one will gainsay their importance. In view of the possibly very grave consequences on our children's children, would it not be an act of culpable negligence to allow current trends toward an increasingly promiscuous society to continue without being in sight of the answers? Is it
Consider next the quality of love in such a Three closely related questions arise. Treated simply as a physical exploit with another body, and divorced from the intrusion of sentiment, is sexual fulfilment possible? David Holbrook, for one, has doubts whether this is possible. Indeed, he concludes that the society.
so-called sexual revolution
"placing limits on
people's capacities to develop a rich enjoyment
of sexual love by reducing it to sexuality." Nor has Irving Kristol any brief for the more visible manifestations of the sexual revolution: There are human sentiments involved in this animal activity. But when sex is public the viewer does not cannot see the sentiments. He can only see the animal coupling. And that is why, when men and women make love, as we say, they prefer to be alone because it is only when you are alone that you can make love, as distinct from merely copulating in an animal and casual way. .
The second question
whether romantic love will become obsolete in a society of unfettered sexual
The "savage" satire,
romantic love but could obtain only instant sex. There might well continue to be sexual friendships, sexual rivalries, sexual jealousies. But the sublimation of sex, thought to be the well-spring of creative imagination and of romantic love, would be no more. One of the great sources of inspiration of poetry and song, of chivalry and dedication, throughout the ages would have dried up. The third related question is about the quality of love in general that can be expected to emerge along the road to such a society. One wonders if it would really be possible to love other people very much, or to care for them as persons very much in a world without opportunity for sublimation. Can such virtues as loyalty, honour, compassion, sacrifice, charity, or tenderness, flourish in an environment of uninhibited public exhibitionism and pornography? Taking a wider perspective of the scene, one wonders whether it is possible to unite unchecked public sexual indulgence with the conin despair, tried for
thinking of tinued progress of any civilisation terms not merely of increasing scientific advance and technological innovation
but in those, also, of a refinement of taste and sensibility. Let the reader ponder on the question at his leisure, bearing in mind the reflection that
whereas the emergence in the past of a new civilisation, or of a new age within the matrix of an existing civilisation, has indeed always been associated with a rapid displacement of old conceptions, values, and purposes by new ones, it has never been associated with a mass movement toward unbridled sexual licentiousness. Thus, a first experiment of this kind just might be the last experiment ever. Goaded on by the predatory forces of commercial opportunism, expectations of carnal gratification aroused by increasingly salacious spectacles, and increasing .
— for new sexual perversions — would soar
beyond the physical
of attainments. In the
unrelenting search for the uttermost in orgiastic experience, cruel passions might be unleashed,
impelling humanity into regions beyond barbarism. One has only to recall the fantastic sadistic
of the Nazi era and to recall also were within an ace of win-
that in 1941 the Nazis
— to accept
far-fetched nor fanciful, civilisation is
conjecture as neither
to recognise that
Censorship is something quite different. It always and everywhere an evil. Censorship means the screening of material by an authority invested with power to ban that which it disapproves. A censor is someone appointed to regulate public morals and judge public taste. And who is that paragon to whom we would be willing to entrust such authority? And who, if he be such a paragon, would be willing to accept the is
John Milton published his AreoSpeech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing when printing was the major medium In 1644,
for the dissemination
ideas. Milton's essay
word on censorship limned the dangers with unmatched
should have been the
not aught more likely to be prohib-
whose first appearance to our eyes bleared and dimmed with prejudice and custom, is more unsightly and implausible than ited than truth itself;
many errors. And though .
winds of doctrine were
loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting, to
misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple.
held in defense of the absolute
right to publish applies also to judgments about
what is obscene and what is not obscene. One man's obscenity is another man's customary mode of expression. In art and in drama, as well
indeed but skin-deep.
only the arrantly self-certain
as in literature,
But having enlisted on the side of freedom, we need not slough off the social problems which come in the wake of license. Those who would
who would know where
to cry halt.
exploit prurience for profit have been quick to
This essay will argue that freedom to speak, to publish, or to communicate from stage, screen or any other public media should be subject to only two inhibitions. The first is that which flows naturally from public taste. The people can choose to reject what is offered, to ignore it, or even to condemn it. The second inhibition is that which may result from the provision for after-the-fact, due-process review under carefully drawn laws prohibiting demonstrable injury to
take advantage of the
new freedom. American
sex movies today are a billion-dollar-a-year business with low costs yielding astronomical prof-
New York-'s 42nd "Adult Movies" become Street which advertise more brazen day by day. But compared to the huge nudes on billboards abutting Piccadilly
The marquees along
Circus which thrust oversized breasts into the London night, the 42nd Street display looks positively decorous. The four-letter word, long
in polite society, is
place used even by distinguished professors of
decade, public acceptance of
these trends has been deepening with
genre make Fanny Hill and Lady Chatterley's Lover look like Sunday School primers. speed. Portnoy's Complaint and
new freedom from furtiveness and
affords a refreshing release
from clandestine "dirtiness." Why, then, are some aspects of this flood of uninhibited ex-
The counter-reaction is being expressed not only by the descendants of Watch and Ward but also by impressive public personalities. Recently, a professor of pediatric psychiatry gave voice to his fear that the brutality and the cheapness of current sex displays may diminish the meaning, the loveliness and hence the joy of the future love life of pression so offensive?
D.H. Lawrence, whose Lady
a landmark case in the battle against censorship, professed that he himself would censor "real" pornography "rigorously," and for the same reasons as those given by the psy-
chiatrist just referred to. Said
Pornography is the attempt to insult sex, to do dirt it. Take the very lowest instance, the picture What I have seen of postcard sold underhand them have been of an ugliness to make you cry they make the sexual act trivial and cheap and nasty.
to deal effectively
social evils? If absolute
brings abuses in its train, is censorship a warranted and effective remedy? John Milton said "no" with a trenchant and unforgettable analogy:
manners are as perfectly learned without thousand other ways which cannot be stopped And he who were pleasantly disposed, could not well avoid to liken it to the exploit of that gallant man, who thought to pound up the crows by shutting his park gate. .
mouth." Says one Talmudic
available in the Jewish
view of this matter; it is a distinction founded largely on intent. When the ancient rabbis were teaching or expounding the traditional sources,
Everyone knows why the bride is brought into the anyone who befouls that moment with his mouth, even if seventy years of good have been decreed for him, has it changed into seventy years of evil. bridal-tent, but
And this judgment applies with equal force to anyone who listens to foul and leering speech and who remains silent. Note, however, that the penalty for coarseness is
not legal action but moral condemnation.
they spoke and wrote with the utmost freedom and frankness, as did the Biblical material on which they based their discussion. But when the intent was to demean, "to do dirt" on sex, to insult sex or deprecate sex, then this was inadmissible coarseness. In Hebrew the phrase used was nibbul peh: literally, "disfigurement of
speaks with perfect freedom about sexual
only on that
intentionally degrading and lewd.
The Bible contains abundant references to the sex act, homosexual as well as heterosexual, to rape, to prostitution,
and to fornication. The
Bible refers without self-consciousness to natural functions, and the Bible preserves some of the world's most beautiful erotic poetry. It is
noteworthy that the same authorities who were banning Rousseau's Confessions were putting into the hands of youngsters the story of David and Bathsheba, ofjudah and Tamer, and of Lot and the men of Sodom. Had they been consistent they would have banned Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, the plays of Ben Jonson, and the works of Shakespeare. Indeed, as most legal authorities agree, it is impossible to arrive at a reasonable, workable definition of obscenity for purposes of censorship.
this difficulty that leads
My view is, without deviation, without exception, without any ifs, buts, or whereases, that freedom of speech means that you shall not do something to people either for the views they have, or the views they express, or the
words they speak or
Freedom of expression, if it is to be meaningmust include freedom for "that which we loathe," for it is obvious that it is no great virtue and presents no great difficulty for one to accord freedom to what we approve or to that to which we are indifferent. This is the heart of the dilemma. That which I hold to be true has no protection if I permit that which I hold to be false to be suppressed for you may with equal logic turn about tomorrow ful at all,
truth as falsehood.
individual's right to
what he wishes
Certain explicit sexual materials are capable of causing considerable offense to numerous Americans
when thrust upon them without their consent. The commission believes that these unwanted intrusions upon individual sensibilities warrant legislative regulation and it further believes that such intrusions can be regulated effectively without any significant interference with consensual communication of sex-
certainly a fortiori true, as the
But, praised be the law, this same freedom right to condemn, to decry
makes possible our and
to attack, as effectively as
we can, that which
our view tawdry or salacious or nauseating. To affirm freedom is not to applaud that which is done under its sign. Thomas Jefferson showed vigor and indignation as he made this point: in
I deplore the putrid state into which our newspapers have passed, and the malignity, the vulgarity, and the mendacious spirit of those who write them. These ordures are rapidly depraving the public .
however, an evil for which there is no remliberty depends on the freedom of the press and that cannot be limited without being lost. It is,
a right to
prevent you from imposing your "ordures" on me. The law cannot create morality and taste, but it can prevent you from rubbing my nose in what I consider to be execrable. This is what Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., meant when he said "my right to swing my arm ends at the point at which your nose begins." It should be added that our new devices for instantaneous
and universal communication make "your arm" far longer than it used to be, and it may well be necessary for legal authorities to give careful consideration to whether or not an extension of the doctrine of "clear and present danger" is required.
in the hullaballoo
about the report of
Commission on Obscenity and Pornography is the fact that the Commission has rec-
dilemma, and has affirmed the
propriety of legislative action to protect the
an acceptable limitation, then
ognizes, that "explicit sexual materials," particularly those that brutalize and insult sex, should not be thrust upon children. But here we are desperately confused. It is possible to be
degradingly lewd while fully clothed. rather
my own children saw The Lovers than have
late Marilyn Monroe in Some movie in which adultery and transvestitism were leering jokes. Many motion pictures rated for general audiences seem to me
had them see the Like
more harmful than many
that are rated
choices as to
report includes this declaration:
what I consider lovely or unlovely, moral or immoral, edifying or
The same test applies
to hear. Its majority
where we came
not lighten the complexity of these problems, and censorship will not solve them. We can but hope that more and more men will come to have respect for
and for the
as for that
depraved and disgusting in our own time, we can only wait for taste and good judgement to reassert themselves after the first wild release.
some evidence that porcure built into it after a
relatively short time
nography has ennui.
Repression, on the other hand, as the Prohibition experiment showed us, creates an unwholesome, heightened desire for that which is forbidden. No one bothers to write a crudity on a wall or on a placard exposed to public view unless such a writing is considered banned and appropriate only to secret places, such as the
room. But I have seen freedom and
cubicle of a men's It
have seen repression. Freedom
"But, Galileo at
—why should you
home most people
don't have satisfactory bathrooms yet?"
THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF J WESLEY SMITH
COURTESY VANGUARD PRESS
Essentially, science is the pursuit of truth: How then could it ever be held to be immoral? Clearly only if the truth itself or some truths were immoral a charge that is
It is not scientific truth in itself that is challenged ethically, but the uses to which it is put. Many argue that there is nothing inherent in the scientific discovery that insures it will be used for moral ends. The polio vaccine, for instance, may inoculate people against polio, but it may also be used to cause it.
Another moral problem of technology with the ignorance of scientists of all the consequences of a particular scientific
might turn out, for instance, had unintended harmful side effects, which had not been foreseen. In such a case, one might say that the doctors were morally negligent in not proceeding more carefully in the use of the application.
that the successful vaccine
These examples refer to the applications of to the technology of atomic energy, computers, and biological compounds not to the scientific formulas that underlie them. How many of us know modern evolutionary theory, relativity theory, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, or Godel's Proof? These are all the business of experts. But the possible uses to which theories may be put very likely have a momentous impact on our way of life. It is not surprising, therefore, that the moral debate that has surrounded science has most frequently concentrated on the way our technologies ought to be science
AND MORALS: FREEDOM OF INQUIRY
science developed in close relation
to technology: It is not too much to say that they were wedded to each other. The possibilities
of technology for improving our lives seen by Francis Bacon in the
early seventeenth century. In the first selection
Lewis Mumford recalls Bacon's vision and analyzes how much the practice of contemporary science has changed since Bacon's time. Mumford argues that the scientist in the twentieth century "has forfeited
in this chapter,
the qualities that were exalted, in the seventeenth century, as the very hallmark of the his detachment from worldly gains scientist
his disinterested pursuit
of truth." Science
the servant of corporate organiza-
of governments that use it for their ends of power and riches that may not have humane consequences. C. P. Snow, in the next article, displays more optimistic faith in the beneficent consequences of science. He remains convinced of the goodness promised by technology and of the high moral standards of scientists because he sees scientific inquiry as itself a moral tions or
to believe that the
"a built-in moral component right in the core of the
writes that there
scientific activity itself.
desire to find the
truth is itself a moral impulse, or at least contains a moral impulse." In a passage of the same essay, which is not excerpted,
exhorts his fellow scientists to take up
the challenge of overcoming
character present in the pursuit of a discovery will carry over
this danger, however, are unknown dangers we may face as man enters a new phase of technology in creating life. Recombinant research can teach us much about our genetic structure and might have beneficial practical consequences, such as a cure for cancer and the repair of genetic defects in humans; but in the face of our awesome new powers, Sinsheimer suggests that caution may become an essential scientific virtue. research The current controversy over is reminiscent of the controversy that surrounded nuclear physics in the mid-century. Then, too, scientists knew they were embarking on research that could have disastrous consequences for humanity. The next selection is from the Report of the General
But is the pursuit of truth always moral, or does the very search for knowledge sometimes does, what is the responsibility toward society? These ques-
Advisory Committee to the United States Atomic Energy Commission in October 1949. The committee, which included scientists who had developed the atomic bomb, recommended on moral grounds that the government halt its work on the "Super" or hydrogen bomb and that it make the public aware of the issues involved. Despite these recommendations, President Truman decided, on January 31, 1950, to proceed with the bomb. In the following very brief excerpt, Edward Teller takes
tions are addressed in the next three articles
the position that such political decisions are not the responsibility of the scientist, whose sole job is to find out how the laws of nature
in this chapter.
Robert Sinsheimer discusses the dangers inherent in research into recombinant DNA.
takes issue both with the idea that scientific
entail evil? If
molecule, present in every cell, determines the hereditary properties of an organism. It has now become possible to from dif"recombine" fragments of
new forms of life. At the present time such recombination is
ferent species, thus creating
possible only in a bacteria that
man. Sinsheimer calls attention to the dangers of releasing a new hybrid organism found
that could cause
new forms of widespread
disease. This possibility has caused
of public concern near some of the major biomedical centers where such research is taking place, such as Harvard University and the University of California, San Diego. strations
In the following article,
research can be halted and with the idea that scientists are not responsible for the applications
of their research.
morally obligated to for the government; these scientists should clearly do so. But Bronowski sees a basic incompatibility between the aims of nationalism and the moral pursuit of the truth that is the essence of science. Scientists, Bronowski maintains, must "set an incorfeel
ruptible standard for public morality." It is time, he argues, for scientists to disestablish themselves from the government that currently
most of their research and
and allocation of resources.
recognition of the delicate balance of our
In the concluding selection in this chapter,
environment. He concludes that "university have a clear obligation to the society that supports us. We have no right to retreat behind the walls of our laboratories; instead, we must use our knowledge to help improve the world."
believes those priorities should be.
the position that scientists have been too
concerns and failed to realize world today. New technology has been developed without a clear in their
the complexity of the
NOTES ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Lewis Mumford, born
in 1895, is generally considered the leading American critic of twentiethcentury architecture. His books range from art and architecture to the impact of technology on human life. His books include Technics and Civilization, The Highway and the City, The Culture of Cities, and The City in History, for which he received the National Book Award in 1961 "Science as Tech.
nology" originally appeared C. P.
in the Proceedings of the
American Philosophical Society for 1961.
also a novelist, scientist,
and government adviser.
England's professional class in his eleven- volume series of novels Strangers and Brothers, His work on the relation of science to morality and culture includes The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution. "The Moral Un-neutrality of Science" first appeared in 1961 in Science. talized
Robert L. Sinsheimer
professor of biophysics and chairman of the Division of Biology
California Institute of Technology.
chairman of the editorial board of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the author of many research reports on nucleic acids. is
The General Advisory Committee of the Atomic Energy Commission was
1946 "to advise the Commission on scientific and technical matters relating to materials, production, and research and development." Composed of nine civilians, its membership in 1949 included such notable scientists as James B. Conant, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Enrico Fermi, all of whom had been instrumental in developing the atomic bomb.
Edward Teller, born in Hungary in 1908, came to the United States after fleeing the Nazi regime. He was among the group of scientists that went to Los Alamos to work on the atomic bomb during World War II, and he was responsible for much of the theoretical groundwork for a hydrogen bomb. In 1953 he joined the faculty of the University of California. In contrast to much of the scientific community during the 1950s, he strongly favored the continued testing and development of nuclear weapons. The recipient of the Atomic Energy Commission's Fermi Award in 1962, he is the author of Our Nuclear Future and The Legacy of Hiroshima. scientist and a humanist. A mathematician by training, he was research professor and fellow of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in Lajolla, California and director of the Council for Biology in Human Affairs there. His books reflect his broad interests and include Science and Human Values, The Identity of Man, Nature and Knowledge and The Ascent of Man, which
Jacob Bronowski was both a
into a television series
the British Broadcasting Corporation.
in Encounter in 1971.
is professor of plant physiology at Washington University in St. Louis. He is of the Center of the Biology of Natural Systems and cochairman of the Scientists' Institute for Public Information. His interests encompass both science and the humanities, and his books Science and Survival and The Closing Circle have had a major impact on the environmental protection movement. "The Dual Crisis in Science and Society" first appeared in Today's Education
also the director
and insights of creative minds were to have the widest kind of application, they would need abundant collective supthat, if the illuminations
Science as technology
port: state aid, corporate organization, systematic
The title of this paper, Science as Technology, would not have surprised or shocked Francis Bacon, for perhaps his most original contribu-
conferences and publications, liberal rewards and honors, and finally, public exhibition and
tion to the enlargement of the province
museums of science and
regimentation, not perhaps entirely in pre-Christian Alexandria, that so presciently recognized, advocated,
ence was his understanding of its great future role in transforming the physical conditions of life. But I am sure that the conclusions that I shall conclusions in the form of finally present would have doubts, challenges, and questions
shocked him quite as much shock many of those who
the nineteenth century, when for the first time purely theoretic researches in physics, by Volta, Ohm, Henry, and Faraday, resulted, almost within a generation, in the invention of the elec-
for his faith in science as a source
of science must now,
[read this paper],
itself as the final justifica-
after four centuries,
be submitted to an historic evaluation and the pragmatic test. When Bacon's assumptions are rigorously examined, they should, I submit, lead to a modification of Bacon's original hopes and even a radical change in our own attitude toward many Baconian beliefs we have, somewhat blindly, taken to be axiomatic. .
most fresh and original in Bacon [is] conception of the role of science as the spir-
arm, so to speak, of technology. But Bacon went further: he saw that curiosity, to be fully effective, must enlist, not solitary and occasional minds, but a corps of well-organized itual
workers, each exercising a specialized function and operating in a restricted area. By the technological organization of science as he portrayed it in the New Atlantis, he proposed to fabricate an engine capable of turning out useful knowledge in the same fashion that a well-organized factory would, shortly after Bacon's prediction, turn out textiles or shoes. Bacon's conception of the organization of science as a technology did not altogether overlook the part played by individual creative minds: he even had a name for such seminal investigators, for he called them "Lamps," and indicated that their function was to "direct new experiments of a Higher Light, more penetrating into na.
his peculiar contribution
and exalted. In looking
anticipations, ical points.
back over the fulfillment of Bacon's it is
plain that there
occurred in the
telegraph, the dynamo, the electric motor; and within two generations in the invention of the telephone, the electric lamp, the x-ray, and the wireless telegraph: all of these being inventions that were not merely impracticable but technically inconceivable until pure scientific research made them live possibilities. The methods that were so fruitful in mechanics and electronics were then applied, with growing success, in organic chemistry and biology; though significantly enough the parts of technology with the longest accumulation of purely empiric knowledge, like mining and metallurgy, remained almost impervious to the advances of tric
The second critical point came during
half of the twentieth century, along with a change of scale and magnitude partly brought
about, almost automatically, by the expansion facilities for communication and the ex-
of new sources of power. This change on human activities: a shot could be heard around the world by means of radio more than eleven times faster than it could be heard by the unaided ear a mile away. At this point, science itself became the technology of technologies; and as the mass production of scientific knowledge went hand in hand with the mass production of inventions and products derived from science, the scientist ploitation
lifted hitherto inviolable limits
status in society, equivalent
occupied by the captains of indusHe, too, was engaged in mass production.
to that earlier try.
The old image of the
remains popular, particularly among scientists; but as science expands as a mass technology, the scientist himself becomes a servant of corporate organizations intent on enlarging the bounds of
— by no means always "humane em— and endowing themselves by means of
invention with power and riches and worldly prestige. By this transformation the scientist has forfeited the qualities that were exalted, in the seventeenth century, as the very hallmark
detachment from worldly
gains and his disinterested pursuit of truth.
the extent that his capacity for pursuing truth
depends upon costly apparatus, collective collaboration, and heavy financial contributions
from government or industry, he has Charles
pointed out the capacity to stand alone and to say No even on matters like the mal-exploitation of nuclear energy that threatens the future of the human race. Sir
Not merely have
the sciences, then,
technologies, but the scientist himself, caught
corporate process, is fast becoming the model of a docile, standardized, organization man, imprisoned by his own obsolete premises, incapable of making his escape without altering those premises. I hope I need not underline the moral that Snow properly drew from this. But there is a corollary that I would stress. Since in the
science as technology has already submitted, often with great eagerness, to political and eco-
pressures, for the sake of the
cannot escape facing the consequences of this submission, and actively helping to rectify them. The scien-
scientific opportunities offered,
has the obligation of erecting intellecand social safeguards against the frequently malign consequences of scientific discoveries, even if the creation of these internal checks and balances slow up, or occasionally bring to a halt, the process of scientific investigation or technological application. As an agent of technology, science no longer has the immunities or the irresponsibilities that it claimed for itself during its great quarrels with the Church. Today, the tist
comes not from the of traditional institutions but from the patronage of contemporary ones. Now if the fulfillment of Bacon's dream deserves our respectful recognition of his prophetic insights, it also imposes upon us a special that of dissociating ourselves from the duty mythology he so largely helped to promote, so as to appraise, in the light of historic experience, his unexamined premises. These premises are now so thoroughly institutionalized that most of our contemporaries continue to act upon them without even a quiver of doubt. But observe: science as technology presents a series of problems that science, as the disinterested examination of nature in search of rational understanding, never confronted; for already it shows the same deep irrationalities and absurdities that mass production in other fields has brought about. The chief premise common to both technology and science is the notion that there are no desirable limits to the increase of knowledge, of material goods, of environmental control; that quantitative productivity is an end in itself, and that every means should be used to expand the facilities for quantitative expansion and greatest danger to science hostility
faced with the situation Goethe foresaw in the fable of the Sorcerer's Apprentice: we have achieved the magic formula for automatically increasing the supply of scientific knowledge; but we have forgotten the Master Magician's formula for regulating or halting the flood, and so are on the point of drowning in it. Science as technology gets its main financial support, and therefore its overall direction, from the national government, or from great industrial corporations like those engaged in exploiting new pharmaceutical preparaare
atomic energy, and from quasi-public philanthropic foundations exerting almost equally large powers. Though the professed aim of these organizations is truth and human welfare, they are governed in perhaps an even greater degree by the Baconian goals of riches and power. On these premises they have no concern with ordering science in accordance with some human measure, toward the fulfillment of broader human goals: for this tions, chemical pest controls, or
means altering the method of mass production and slowing down the whole process. Our schools and universities are helpless to restore an organic balance, because they themselves have accepted the same ideology and rely for a large part of their activities upon endowments that are scaled to the prospects of continued expansion and quick turnover: indeed the very possibilities for professional
number of scientific papers pubthan upon long-term results that may not
be visible for a generation or more. The greatest contribution of science, the most .
of all its many gifts, far surpassing its purely material benefits, has been its transformation of the human consciousness, through its widening illumination of the entire cosmic and desirable
transfer to man of the with his whole being, in that process. Has the time not come, then in technology as in every other aspect of the common life to re-examine our accepted axioms and practical imperatives and to release science itself from the humanly impoverished and underdimensioned mythology of power that Francis Bacon helped to promote?
nonsense. I have even tried to exsome kinds of scientific temperament and scientific experience. I know well enough that scientists are very much like other men. After all, we are all human, even if some of us don't give that appearance. I think I would be prepared to risk a generalization. The scientists I have known (and because of my official life I have known as many as anyone in the world) have been in certain respects at least as morally admirable as any other group of intelligent that
men. So scientists are not much different from other men. They are certainly no worse than other men. But they do differ from other men in one thing. That is the point I started with. Whether they like it or not, what they do is of critical .
importance for the human race. Intellectually, it has transformed the climate of our time. Socially, it will decide whether we live or die, and
how we live
It holds decisive powers for That is the situation in which the scientists find themselves. They may not have asked for it, or may only have asked for it in part, but they cannot escape it. They think, many of the more sensitive of them, that they don't deserve to have this weight of responsibility heaved upon them. All they want to do is to get on with their work. I sympathize. But the any scientists can't escape the responsibility more than they, or the rest of us, can escape
There has been
they do. Yet, potentially, they can have great influence. The rest of the world is frightened
both of what they do that is, of the intellectual discoveries of science and of its effect. The rest of the world, transferring its fears, is frightened of the scientists themselves and tends to think of them as radically different from other
for intellectual persons
The tools may be purposes which most of us would rethe tools are used.
used for gard as bad. If so, we are sorry. But as scientists, that is no concern of ours. This is the doctrine of the ethical neutrality of science. I can't accept it for an instant. I don't believe any scientist of serious feeling can accept it. It is
midst of water too rough for them. of the invention of categories or, if you like, of the division of moral labour. That is, the scientists who want to contract out say, we produce the tools. We stop there. It is for you to the rest of the world, the politicians
most important occupational group in the world today. At this moment, what they do is of passionate concern to the whole of human society. At this moment, the scientists have little influence on the world effect of what
moment in which we stand. of course one way to contract out. It
the gravity of the
Scientists are the
The moral of science
men. As an
press in fiction
to find the precise stateit
wrong. Yet we nearly
intuitively that the invention
of comfortaone of the
methods of letting the conscience rust. Are we going to let our consciences rust? Can
ignore that intimation we nearly all have, that scientists have a unique responsibility? Can we believe it, that science is morally neutral? To me it would be dishonest to pretend oththere is only one answer to those erwise
remark which seems
some way off the point. Anyone who has ever worked in any science knows how much aesjoy he has obtained. That is, in the actual activity of science, in the process of making a discovery, however humble it is, one can't help feeling an awareness of beauty. The subjective thetic
experience, the aesthetic satisfaction, seems
as the satisfaction
a from writing a poem or a piece of music. That is not the end of it. The result of the activity of science, the actual finished piece of scientific work, has an aesthetic value in itself. The judgments passed on it by other scientists will more often than not be expressed in aesthetic terms: "That's beautiful!" or "That really is
novel, or composing
understating English tend
of scientific constructs, of works of art, are variegated. We think some of the great syntheses, like Newton's, beautiful because of their classical simplicity, but we see a different kind of beauty in the relativistic extension of the wave equation of the interpretation of the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, perhaps because of the touch of unexpectedness. Scientists know their kinds of beauty when they see them. They are suspicious, and scientific history shows they have always been right to have been so, when a subject is in an "ugly" state. For example, most physicists feel in their bones that the present bizarre assembly of nuclear particles, as grotesque as a stamp collection, can't possibly be, in the long run, the last word. There is no doubt, then, about the aesthetic content of science, both in the activity and the result. But aesthetics has no connection with morals, say the categorizers. I don't want to to say).
but are you waste time on peripheral issues quite sure of that? Or is it possible that these categories are inventions to make us evade the human and social conditions in which we now exist? But let us move straight on to something else, which is right in the grain of the activity of science and which is at the same time quintessentially moral. I mean, the desire to find the
like the aesthetics
don't intend anything complicated,
am using the word as a scientist know that the philosophical ex-
amination of the concept of empirical truth gets us into some curious complexities, but most
They know that the word and as the rest of us
scientists really don't care.
truth, as they use the
language of common speech,
is what enough for makes science work. That is good them. On it rests the whole great edifice of modern science.
truth in their
what They want to
the scientists are trying to find.
the driving force
of the whole activity. It compels the scientist to have an overriding respect for truth, every stretch of the way. That is, if you're going to find what is there, you mustn't deceive yourself or anyone else. You mustn't lie to yourself. At the crudest level, you mustn't fake your experiments. Curiously enough, scientists do try to behave like that. A short time ago, I wrote a novel in which the story hinged on a case of scientific fraud. But I made one of my characters, who was himself a very good scientist, say that, con-
sidering the opportunities and temptations,
We such have all heard of perhaps half a dozen open and notorious ones, which are on the record for anyone to read ranging from the "discovery" of the L radiation to the singular episode of the astonishing
cases there are.
Piltdown man. But the total number of all these men is vanishingly small by the side of the total number of .
The remarkable thing
is not the handful of from the search for truth overwhelming numbers who keep to it.
That is anyone
demonstration, absolutely clear for of moral behaviour on a very
very imporwidest sense (which includes scholarship) from all other in-
differentiates science in
right in the core
desire to find the truth
at least contains a moral imwhich a scientist tries to find the truth imposes on him a constant moral discipline the constant moral exercise of seeking and telling the truth. To scientists, who are brought up in this climate, this seems as natural as breathing. Yet it is a wonderful thing. Even if the scientific activity contained only this one moral component, that alone would be enough to let us say that it was morally
moral impulse, or
The way .
— and many
than pleased with the consequences. the description of life in molecular terms provides the beginnings of a technology to reshape
construct our fellow life forms, each, as are we, the product of three billion years of evolution into projections of the
are profoundly troubled
by the prospect.
we leave web of evolutionary Nature
the advent of synthetic biology
the security of that
and strangely, bore us and all of our fellow creatures. With each step we will be increasingly on our own. The invention and introduction of new living forms may well be irreversible. How do we prevent grievous misthat, blindly
steps, inherently unretraceable?
foresee the consequences, near- and long-term, of our interventions? Genes, composed of DNA, provide the basic molecular blueprints for the design of living organisms. The recombination of genes providing new arrangements of has always been a mechanism for the generation of genetic diver-
sity within species (and thus
may be an
biological evolution. Inevitably, this must change not only the world in which we live, but also the way in which science functions in it. It is the success of science that has ended its
from the strident conflict of and the often passionate clash of values. The great discoveries in molecular and cellular biology in particular the elucidation of the structure and functions of the nucleic acids have provided us with a definitive understanding of the nature of life. Earlier in this century splendid discoveries in physics and chemistry provided us with a definitive understanding of the nature of matter. From that understanding has come the technology to reshape the inanipleasant isolation
an essential factor
new technology of
"recombinant DNA" provides the capability to recombine genetic material from the most diverse species, i.e., to
Troubled scientists and confused laymen may wish that the recombinant DNA issue would go away, but it will not. Mankind is about to extend its dominion by redirecting the course of
mix genes from animals
and plants and microorganisms, and thereby to produce novel organisms not derived by the usual evolutionary processes. I
it is impossible to predict from knowledge the properties of such organ-
isms and therefore the consequences of their introduction into our biosphere. Most would probably be innocuous. Some could, by design and selection, become of very great value for human purpose. Others might possibly, inad-
become a considerable human, animal or plant life.
peril to pres-
novel organisms could be fully contained while they were under study, there would be much less cause for concern. However, the technology is currently feasrecombinant ible only in microorganisms and in particular in the organism, Escherichia coli, a microbe indigenous to man, animals, soil and plants. The continued total containment of microorganisms If these
has never been accomplished even under the most stringent conditions. The proposed use
work of "crippled" bacterial strains with reduced likelihood of survival outside the
certainly a valuable precaution;
however, pragmatically, I suggest that the likelihood of error, of accident, of culture contamination, etc. will inevitably frustrate the goal of containment.
Because we are concerned here with selfreproducing organisms, this hazard has a novel and irreversible character. Once released, and finding an appropriate ecological niche, these
organisms cannot be recalled nor their manufacture ceased. They will be with us potentially forever.
By our wits mankind has become the master of the extant living world. Will short-sighted ingenuity
now spawn new
competitors to be-
apparent significance of the potential haz-
ard of recombinant
upon the perspective in which the issue is seen. Viewed narrowly the potential hazard seems slight. Most of the novel microorganisms will likely be innocuous. A few, by careful design of value for human purfew might inadvertently be perilous. The chance of release of these organisms is staand
selection, will be
The chance of a duce
can hardly be null.
of events necessary to proplague seems slim in any one experiment. series
Viewed broadly, however over long years, in numerous environs, with countless experiments a far larger penumbra of hazard appears.
are ignorant of the probable consequences, near- and long-term, of crossing the well-developed barriers to genetic recombination between species. We, and all higher organisms, figuratively live immersed in a sea of
intimate and inevitable
interactions with these ubiquitous beneficial,
low but, in truth, incalculable probability, would advocate extreme caution in the development of research in this field. I suggest such research be restricted to a small number of lablikely I
oratories providing the
tainment, under supervision, to insure that all possible precautions are in fact employed. I would also advocate the transition as rapidly as feasible of such research from the Escherichia coli organism to some other organism adapted by nature to survival in only a very restricted
and extreme environment and
forms some however,
the metabolic level, not at the genetic level.
The introduction of genetic intercourse between microorganisms and higher organisms
provide opportunities for the subsequent evolution of new forms of pathogens and new modes of transmission of disease. If the diseases con-
intimately associated with man. It is only the reservoir of knowledge accumulated over the past 25 years concerning Escherichia
cerned have long latent periods (as do cancers or slow virus diseases) they might not become apparent until the causative organisms had become widely disseminated. Because of these potential major hazards of
makes it the organism of choice. An extensive program of research could likely provide alternatives within a few years, if the delay is accepted and the effort is made. We can have no assurance that science will not bring us into a more dangerous world. The search for knowledge has often been hazardous; many explorers have faced great perils. Now the hazards can encompass the planet. For our knowledge now gives us great power and we may not continue to rely upon the resilience of Nature to protect us from our follies.
have had the rare luxury to pursue truth, unconflicted by compassion. Caution has been an unfamiliar virtue, while boldness and curiosity have been hallowed. As we cut free the strands of our inheritance, a different blend of virtues may be in order and other traditions may be helpful. We should not underestimate these stakes, now and in time to come. We will need to establish in each time a sense of limits commensurate with our finite vision and shaped by our limits within which we sense of the moral believe we can explore without fear and with decency and beyond which we ought tread most gingerly. These limits will change continually as knowledge grows. In their definition and rescientists
should involve all who can help of those affected. As scientists who seek to understand Nature we should not unthinkingly and irreversibly perturb it. As human beings we have a responsibility always to be concerned for our fellows and our fellow creatures and the future definition
would entail. It should make clear that there are no known or foreseen nonmilitary applications of this development. The separate views of the members of the Committee are attached to this report for
your use. J. R.
October 30, 1949
We have been asked by the Commission whether or not they should immediately ini-
Report of the General Advisory Committee to the United States Atomic Energy Commission, October 30, 1949
tiate an "all-out" effort to develop a weapon whose energy release is 100 to 1000 times greater and whose destructive power in terms of area of damage is 20 to 100 times greater than those of the present atomic bomb. We recommend strongly against such action.
base our recommendation on our be-
extreme dangers to mankind inherent in the proposal wholly outweigh any military advantage that could come from this development. Let it be clearly recognized that lief that the
Although the members of the Advisory Committee are not unanimous in their proposals as to what should be done with regard to the super bomb, there are certain elements of unanimity among us. We all hope that by one means or another, the development of these weapons can be avoided. We are all reluctant to see the United States take the initiative in precipitating this development. We are all agreed that it would be wrong at the present
ourselves to an all-out
of the commitment not
as to the nature
develop the weapon. The majority feel that this should be an unqualified commitment. Others feel that it should be made conditional on the response of the Soviet government to a proposal to renounce such development. The Committee recommends that enough be declassified about the super bomb so that a public statement of policy can be made at this time. Such a statement might in our opinion point to the use of deuterium as the principal source of energy. It need not discuss initiating mechanisms nor the role
which we believe tritium
should explain that the weapon cannot be explored without developing it and prooffiring it. In one form or another, the statement should express our desire not to make this development. It should explain the scale and general nature of the destruction which its use
super weapon; it is in a totally differfrom an atomic bomb. The reason for developing such super bombs would be to have the capacity to devastate a vast area with a single bomb. Its use would involve a decithis is a
sion to slaughter a vast
as to the possible global ef-
fects of the radioactivity generated by the explosion of a few super bombs of conceivable magnitude. If super bombs will work at all, there is no inherent limit in the destructive power that may be attained with them. Therefore, a super bomb might become a weapon of genocide. The existence of such a weapon in our armory would have far-reaching effects on world opinion: reasonable people the world over would realize that the existence of a
weapon of tion
type whose power of destruc-
essentially unlimited represents a threat
of the human race which is intolThus we believe that the psychological of the weapon in our hands would be
to the future
adverse to our interest. We believe a super
bomb should never be produced. Mankind would be far better off not to have a demonstration of the feasibility of such a weapon until the present climate of world opinion changes.
by no means certain that the weapon
The application of this weapon with the consequent great release of radioactivity would have results unforeseeable at present, but would certainly render large areas unfit for
can be developed at all and by no means certain that the Russians will produce one within a decade. To the argument that the Russians may succeed in developing this weapon, we would reply that our undertaking it will not prove a deterrent to them. Should they use the
habitation for long periods of time.
fact that no limits exist to the destrucof this weapon makes its very existence and the knowledge of its construction a danger to humanity as a whole. It is necessarily an evil thing considered in any light. For these reasons we believe it important for the President of the United States to tell the American public, and the world, that we think it wrong on fundamental ethical principles to initiate a program of development of such a weapon. At the same time it would be appropriate to invite the nations of the world to join us in a solemn pledge not to proceed in the development or construction of weapons of this category. If such a pledge were accepted even without control machinery, it appears highly probable that an advanced stage of development leading to a test by another power could be detected by available physical means. Furthermore, we have in our possession, in our stockpile of atomic bombs, the means for adequate "military" retaliation for the production or use of a "super."
against us, reprisals by our large
stock of atomic
effective to the use
determining not to proceed to develop bomb, we see a unique opportunity of providing by example some limitations on the totality of war and thus of limiting the fear and arousing the hopes of mankind. In
James B. Conant Hartley
Cyril Stanley Smith
L.A. DuBridge Oliver E. Buckley
October 30, 1949
AN OPINION ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE "SUPER"
A decision on the proposal that an allout effort be undertaken for the development of the "Super" cannot in our opinion be separated from considerations of broad national policy. A weapon like the "Super" is only an advantage when its energy release is from 100-1000 times greater than that of ordinary atomic bombs. The area of destruction therefore would run from 150 to approximately 1000 square miles or more. It is clear that the use of such a weapon cannot be justified on any ethical ground which .
to the laboratories
being a certain individuality and dignity even if he happens to be a resident of an enemy country. It is evident to us that this would be the view of peoples in other countries. Its use would put the United States in a bad moral position relative to the peoples of the world. Any postwar situation resulting from such a weapon would leave unresolvable enmities for generations. A desirable peace cannot come from such an inhuman application of force. The postwar problems would dwarf the problems which confront us at present. gives a
It is It is
not responsible for the laws of job to find out how these laws the scientist's job to find the ways is
which these laws can serve the human will. However, it is not the scientist's job to determine whether a hydrogen bomb should be constructed, whether it should be used, or how it in
should be used. This responsibility rests with the American people and with their chosen representatives.
whether it is conceived as a moratorium on on publication, or on development, in the present system of support for science it could be imposed only by government action. And no government would agree to that in the middle of an arms race, when it is hidebound in the concept of negotiating from strength which means by threat and counter-threat. In fact no scientist, and I hope no one who cares for the growth of knowledge, would accept a moratorium even if it were practicable. The tradition of free inquiry and publication has been essential in setting the standard of absolute truth in science: it is already eroded by secrecy in government and industry, and we need to resist any extension of that. On this ground certainly any idea of a literal stand-still in science is wrong-headed, and I do not take it seriously. But it would be shallow to find in the popular dream of a moratorium nothing more than this literal idea. There is something there that goes deeper, and that is the idea of a voluntary agreement among scientists themselves. For the layman sees that he will never put an end to misuse by letting governments tell scientists what to do: that leads only to the exploitation of science by those who know how to manipulate power. He sighs for a moratorium because he wants science used for good and is convinced that this can come about only by the action of ter
The disestablishment ot science On 2 February 1939 my late friend and colleague Leo Szilard sent a letter to Professor J. F. JoliotCurie in France in which he proposed that atomic physicists should make a voluntary agreement not to publish any new findings on the fission of uranium. It was a crucial time in history. The date was shortly after Munich; Hitler was riding high, and was clearly determined to make war. And just at this threatening moment, results were published which left no doubt that the atom of uranium could be split and neutrons released in the process. Szilard concluded that
chain reaction could be pro-
duced and warned Joliot-Curie, "In certain circumstances this might then lead to the construction of bombs which would be extremely dangerous in general and particularly in the hands of certain governments." Far-sighted as Leo Szilard was, it is hard to believe that the events he feared could have been stopped even if the scientists he canvassed had accepted his invitation to silence. The embargo that he tried to improvise was too crude to be realistic, in a field in which discoveries were being made so fast and their implications were so clear and so grave. At best Szilard's scheme could have been a stop-gap with which he might hope to buy a little time. Yet it is revealing and important that a scientist with the standing of Leo Szilard should have put into words the favourite daydream of the
to call a
reminds us that scientists also feel helpless in the rush of events, which unseen hands seem constantly to direct towards more and more massive and unpleasant forms of death. We all want to buy time: a time to reflect, without next year's weapons programme already grinning behind our backs. Science.
moratorium on science, in would be as unrealistic years ago. It does not mat-
If science is to express a conscience, it must come spontaneously out of the community of scientists. But
of course this hope poses the crucial questions on which in the end the whole argument hinges. Is science as a discipline capable of inspiring in those who practise it a sense of communal responsibility? Can scientists be moved, as a body, to accept the moral decisions which their key position in this civilisation has thrust
them? These questions cut deep, and I do not think that any scientist now can sleep in peace by pushing them to the back of his mind. However, there are two distinct kinds of questions here, which engage different parts of his activity and personality. Both are questions of moral conscience. But I will distinguish the first kind by
them questions of humanity and the calling them questions of integrity.
The questions of humanity concern
should take in the perpetual struggle of each nation to outwit the others, chiefly in the ability to make war. Although the scientist is more often drawn into this (as a technician) than that a
his fellow citizens, his moral dilemma is just the same as theirs: he must weigh his patriotism against his sense of a universal humanity. If there is anything special about his being a scientist, it
can only be that he is more conscious than others that he belongs to an international community. The second kind of moral questions, those of integrity, derive from the conditions of work which science imposes on those who pursue it. inLike every form of research and scholarship scideed, like every intellectual commitment ence is an endless search for truth, and those who devote their lives to it must accept a stringent discipline. For example, they must not be a party to hiding the truth, for any end what-
have no choice: each of them has been of his nation, and to be deaf and stony-hearted to the interests of humanity at large. In a world in which diplomacy still consists of national bargaining, and jockeying for positions of power, no statesman has a mandate for humanity, and therefore the state
elected to protect the interests
between means and
ends for them. Science admits no other end than the truth, and therefore it rejects all those devices of expediency by which men who seek power excuse their use of bad means for what they call good ends.
in the street turns to scientists in the des-
that they will act as keepers
answer that they have which is to disclose what the head of state who has been
national duty, too,
it to whatever use he judges best. time of world war, when the survival of a nation may be at stake, most scientists will act like this; and they will have a better conscience than Klaus Fuchs, who thought himself entitled to do as he chose with scientific secrets. Even in time of peace, there will be some who will put national loyalty first. I think this is a matter of private conscience, which no man can adjudicate for another. Therefore scientists who feel that
elected to put
their ultimate loyalty
to their nation
be allowed to follow their conscience; and they should do so by working directly for their government.
times as they are,
tenable, in the
the stance that Dr. Robert
namely to be a on weapons on some days and an international conscience on others. The rivalry of nations has now become too bitter, and tried to maintain,
begin with the questions of humanity. Since so much scientific and technical talent goes into advice and research on war, it is natural that the
moral problem that stands largest in our minds (as it did in Leo Szilard's) is still the disavowal of war.
the choices that it poses for the scientist too appalling, to make it possible to be involved in
No man who
able to see himself as others
do can approve making war on
consequence) using broadcast weapons atomic bombs, napalm, orbiting missiles, and the like. Yet he also knows that every government that ordered the development of these indiscriminate weapons, anywhere in the world, did so as a duty to its own nation. This is why (as a
in the street
away from such
scientists to turn
enterprises, or at the least to
keep these dreadful secrets to themselves when they discover them. He knows that the heads of
weapons and war policy and still to claim the right of personal judgment. And that is not merely
matter of professional independence: it a deeper conflict with the morality of nationalism, government, and diplomacy. Nationalism has now distorted the use of science so that it outrages the aspirations of the user. All over the world, from Jordan to Viet Nam, and from Nigeria to South America, men carry in their hands the most precise and expensive products of technology: automatic rifles, a
homing rockets, and all of combat and terrorism.
radar, infra-red glasses,
the refined machinery
Yet the Viet Cong sniper and the Negro infantryman on whom these gifts are heaped has them only to kill. Nothing like this has been given him at home to live with: he has no toilet there and no bath, not a stick of decent furniture and no tools, no medicines and no schooling to speak of. It is bad enough that the world is full of people who live in such misery; and it is an affront to humanity and morality that there should then be pressed upon them as the blessings of technical civilisation the beautiful instruments of murder. It
plain, therefore, in
unless a scientist believes as a matter of conscience that he directly
to his nation to
research, he should not accept
any indirect part in it. If he chooses war research, he should work in a government department or establishment. But if he abhors the consequences of national war, he should also reject any contract, grant or project that comes to him from a military department, in any country. This is not an easy counsel in those countries (chiefly the United States and Russia) where most research in the physical sciences, and much outside them, is financed by service and other government departments. For it does not apply only to work on weapons and strategy, but by historical
a large area
of fundamental and theoretical research. 1 The support of science from military and
Although I begin with the physical sciences, my theme is the dependence of all science now on government support, and I ought to give the reader some measure of that. To avoid an excess of detail, will confine myself to two statistics: Where is basic research done, and who pays the piper there? In Soviet Russia, of course, the monopoly by government is absolute. In the United States between 1965 and 1970, 62% of the annual cost of basic research (which rose from 2.9 to 3.5 billion dollars in these years) was paid by the Federal Government, and 58% of it was done in the Universities. When research done outside the Universities is stripped from the total cost, the balance sheet becomes: 75% of the basic research done in the Universities is paid by Federal grants and contracts, and only 25% by other I
for basic research in
all sciences together.
even greater for the physical sciences alone, and for non-basic and development work. parity
in a haphazard way. 1945 out of the crash
to finance research which had been improvised during the War. This pattern of quasi-military support still persists, both in general research grants and in specific project costs and contracts, in much of the work done in physics and chemistry, for example. There is a similar pattern in the research financed by the space programme in the United States; again the theoretical and fundamental scientist finds himself at the end of a long pipeline which is not strictly military, and yet whose command of funds derives from a belief by government that the department is a useful outpost of technology as an instrument of com-
Because of these arrangements, nient for to
in the physical sciences
draw the money for his research, whatever from one of these quasi-military pipelines.
since his university usually cannot pay for
example) cannot survive without grants, he is compelled to go for help where the money is. So it comes about that physical scientists in different countries, who would not willingly work in war research, nevertheless get their funds from government departments whose main business is
related to war, or
departments. It seems timely to decide research should not
and that grants for non-military
are at least sensi-
wishes and displeasures of war
tive to the
In the main,
such a source cannot be blind to the subtle conformity that it imposes on his own conduct and on those who work with him, including his students.
have already said that most physicists who take money from government departments have nowhere else to go; so that if they were to refuse these grants, they would have to give up their I
hardship, but it is long. For the technical society that we live in cannot afford to let research languish, and will be forced to create research. This
channels for support if the old channels are stopped up by the receivers themselves. But it would be foolhardy to pretend that the transition period will be easy while it lasts. A deeply entrenched and politically powerful practice can be overthrown in time, but not without sacrifices meanwhile (in careers and even in
A pervasive moral distortion, a readiness to use any means for its own ends, warps the machinery of modern government. The scientist who joins a committee becomes a prisoner of the
by those who take the first step monopoly of government patronage. Meanwhile, the longer we wait, the more deeply rooted this patronage becomes, and
in trying to break the
the harder to break.
problem of creating a organisation of support for non-military research. For the problem applies to all sciI
shall return later to the
beyond physics, and before I discuss it must establish a case for detaching them also from government departments. To do so, I must move on from the inhumanity of war to the moral standing of government influence in
ences, far I
to the issue
traditional issue of conscience for scienhas been the use of their work to make war more terrible. But the problem that confronts us
more fundamental and
no longer confine their qualms to the uses and abuses to which their