The Politicization of Science and the Use and Abuse of Technology

The Politicization of Science and the Use and Abuse of Technology

Gabriel R. Ricci (Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/IJT.2015070105


This paper examines the dialectical role of science in its promotion of public policy and the manner in which scientific autonomy has been challenged to further political ambition. Various episodes in the ever expanding technological reach of the marriage of science and politics is historically recounted to demonstrate the threat to scientific self-rule and to individual scientists who have been relegated to instrumentally functional roles. It is argued that the emergent class status of scientists has been subverted by the triumvirate of technology, industry and religion. Moreover, science has met its greatest challenge from those entities which understand how the use of technology and scientific discovery translate into regulatory measures.
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Government, Science And War

The use of the scientific community to produce a weapon of mass destruction during the Second World War forged a lasting relationship between government and science by which the two are not easily separated. This relationship has been marked by internecine strife with very public arguments. There is a prehistory of this tension that is well known to us through the iconic cases in which political authority has determined that certain scientific ideas must be suppressed in order to safe guard worldviews which supported institutional doctrine. Galileo, who exacerbated his problems with the Church by demonstrating that he was as exegetically equipped as the next favorite Jesuit, is perhaps the most notorious incident. Giordano Bruno, though more a speculative thinker than a scientist was burned at the stake for his controversial multiple worlds view. Similarly, Francis Bacon, who primarily articulated a framework for the sociology of knowledge, became vulnerable to political vagaries. The cases of Galileo and Bruno were driven by the desire to protect a hegemonic worldview. In our time it has been the Oppenheimer case which was fueled by Cold War hysteria that has had such obvious global ramifications. There would be other cases to follow.

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