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SCIENCE AND POLITICS / Vol. 59, No. 3 (Fall 1992)

Arien Mack, Editor

Science and politics were once believed to be entirely separate realms. In 1917, amid the technologically driven carnage of World War I, Max Weber lectured on science as a vocation, a sphere of life distinguished by the search for technical proficiency, for disenchantment and rationality. Two years later, he spoke of politics also as a vocation, the exercise of power for its own sake where passion, even violence, rule the actions.

This article examines the economic views of several English natural philosophers during the seventeenth century. Throughout the century, England's leading natural philosophers were concerned, not merely to increase their knowledge of nature but to reform society at every level, to make better Christian men, both rulers and subjects. Science, these Protestant and humanist philosophers thought, would play a key role in this reforming process, what some called the reformation of the world. The study of nature would make all men more pious by revealing God through the study of nature; it would make better leaders by instructing them in God's providential rule over the universe.

This article discusses the three components of the state/science bond noted by Alexis de Tocqueville in France. In the book Souvenirs, Tocqueville tells of a conversation between himself and the son of the famous physicist Andre Ampere in 1848, in which he observes that the bond which links the state and science is nowhere stronger than in France. This conversation occurred during the days of the 1848 revolution when the topics of science, technology, and technocracy stirred public passions. However, Tocqueville's comments drew attention to a more subtle and permanent feature of French institutional, political, and social life, namely, a robust and long-standing connection between political leadership and scholarly inquiry.

There are two kinds of politics with which the new social studies of science has been concerned. One is the older notion of politics as the overt actions and policies intended to advance the interests and agendas of “special interest groups.” This kind of politics “intrudes” into “pure science” through consciously chosen and often clearly articulated actions and programs that shape what sciences get done, how the research and results are interpreted, and, therefore, scientific and popular images of nature and social relations.

This article examines the impact of social, political and cultural factors on the development of science in the Soviet Union. The most important factor in the history of Soviet science was the imposition of Stalinist policies in the 1930s. This led to the ideologization of science and the belief that socialist science existed as distinct from bourgeois science. The ideologization of science imposed significant impediments to fundamental research which affected the system. In a word, politics and ideology played a predominant role in the Soviet scientific enterprise. The politics of Soviet science reflect the personalities and programs of Communist party leaders, from Vladimir Ilyich Lenin to Joseph Stalin.

This article examines the relationship between Nazism and science. Increasing numbers of scholars are exploring the emigration of scientists and other refugees from Nazi Germany, often basing their analyses on the data concerning émigrées published by Werner Roeder and Herbert A. Strauss. Various professions have also come under scrutiny, including doctors, judges, engineers, and teachers. Major studies of pertinent corporations and industries are also appearing. During the years of the Third Reich and for some time afterward, there were three major sources for perceptions of the relationship between science and National Socialism.

This article looks at the role of German academic physics during the regime of Adolf Hitler, particularly that of German physics professor Werner Heisenberg in the practical aims of the German political system. The connection between knowledge and power--in particular, the connection between scientific knowledge and its practical origins and impact--has been recognized and exploited since the beginning of civilization. Although most scientists still insist that their research is wholly independent of political, social, even moral issues, politicians have not seen it that way.

This article addresses issues and concerns relating to eugenics. Eugenics is a word with nasty connotations but an indeterminate meaning. Indeed, it often reveals more about its user's attitudes than the policies, practices, intentions, or consequences labeled. The problem of multiple definitions was recognized by the Commission of the European Communities when it omitted the word eugenics from its revised human genome analysis proposal on the grounds that it lacks precision. The superficiality of public debate on eugenics is partly a reflection of these diverse, sometimes contradictory meanings, which result in arguments that often fail to engage.


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