Professional idealism among scientists and engineers: a neglected tradition in STS studies

TitleProfessional idealism among scientists and engineers: a neglected tradition in STS studies
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsMitcham, C.
Secondary TitleTechnology in Society
Abstract

Scholarly studies have tended to see scientists and engineers as closely identified with and not very critical of techno-science—as proponents and apologists, not critics. In fact, a significant minority of scientists and engineers have been fundamental critics of numerous aspects of techno-science. To call attention to this neglected dimension of science–technology–society relations, the present paper briefly reviews four contexts in which scientists and engineers have advanced, from the 1950s through the 1990s, basic moral criticisms of techno-science: the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Pugwash movement, and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Against this background the paper then develops a slightly more expansive narrative of the work of the Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility (CSFR) of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Finally, mention is made of some new contemporary instances of this tradition of what is termed “professional scientific idealism.”