The Social Responsibility of Scientists
Die soziale Verantwortung der Wissenschaftler
St. Raphael Gymnasium:
The 20th century that is now coming to an end, has been a unique century in that it witnessed more significant changes than any previous century: changes for better, changes for worse; changes that brought enormous benefits to human beings, changes that threatened the very existence of the human species. The world today is completely different from that of a hundred years ago.
|1) Many factors have contributed to these changes, but by far the most important factor, the dominant factor, was the progress in science and technology. It is scientists who are mainly responsible for both the immense blessings received and the grave dangers confronting us now.||1) ||2) There was a time when science was considered to be completely divorced from ordinary life. Scientists built an “ivory tower” in which they sheltered pretending that their work had nothing to do with human welfare. The aim of scientific research — they asserted — was to understand the laws of nature, and since these are immutable and unaffected by human reactions and emotions, these reactions and emotions have no place in the study of nature. Even when scientific research went beyond the passive study of natural phenomena, many scientists continued the pretence of living in the ivory tower. They tried to evade their responsibilities to society by hiding behind such precepts as: “science should be undertaken for its own sake”; “science has nothing to do with politics”; “science cannot be blamed for its misapplication”; and “scientists are just technical workers”.||2) ||3) All this was a fallacy and an illusion even in the past, and is certainly not true today. Many scientists still stand by these maxims, advocating a laissez faire policy on science. But a growing number of them are abandoning it in the face of reality, in view of the changing nature of science, its scale, its tools, its image; above all, its impact on national and international affairs.||3)Sogar In der Vergangenheit war all dies ein Fehlschluss und eine Illusion und ist sicherlich auch heute nicht wahr. Viele Wissenschaftler halten immer noch an diesen Grundsätzen fest, indem sie einen laissez faire Stil bezüglich der Wissenschaft befürworten. Aber eine zunehmende Anzahl von ihnen verlässt diesen Stil im Angesicht der Realität und im Hinblick auf die Veränderung des Wesens der Wissenschaft, seiner Reichweite, seiner Werkzeuge, seinem Stellenwert, vor allem wegen seiner Auswirkung auf nationale und internationale Beziehungen. ||4) Science has lost its innocence. It plays a dominant role in almost every walk of life, especially so in matters of world security. Nowadays, scientific research has a direct impact on political relations between nations, and vice versa, political events directly affect the ways scientific research is done.||4) Die Wissenschaft hat ihre Unschuld verloren. Sie spielt eine vorherrschende Rolle in fast allen Lebensbereichen, besonders in den Angelegenheiten der was die Weltsicherheit betrifft. Heutzutage hat die wissenschaftliche Forschung eine direkte Auswirkung auf die politischen Beziehungen zwischen den Nationen und umgekehrt wirken politische Ereignisse direkt auf die Art und Weise wie wissenschaftliche Forschung betrieben wird. ||5) This was first clearly demonstrated during the Second World War, in the development of nuclear weapons. The atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima, in August 1945, heralded a new age, the nuclear age.||5) Dies wurde zum ersten Mal während des zweiten Weltkrieges deutlich bewiesen, bei der Entwicklung von nuklearen Waffen. Die Atombombe fiel auf Hiroshima im August 1945 und leitete damit ein neues Zeitalter ein, das nukleare Zeitalter. ||6) The nuclear age is the creation of scientists, but it went sour on them from the very beginning. In total disregard of the basic tenets of science — openness and universality — it was conceived in secrecy, and usurped — even before birth — by one state to give it political dominance. With such congenital defects, and being nurtured by an army of Dr Strangeloves, it is no wonder that the creation grew into a monster; a monster with 100,000 heads, nuclear warheads; a monster that breathed fear and mistrust, and threatened the continued existence of the human species on this planet. Scientists have a great deal to answer for. ||6) Das nukleare Zeitalter ist die Schöpfung der Wissenschaftler, aber es lief von Anfang an schief für sie. In völliger Missachtung der grundlegenden Lehrsätze der Wissenschaft – Offenheit und Transparenz- wurde es in Geheimhaltung ersonnen und an sich gerissen – sogar vor dessen Ursprung- von einem Staat, um politische Vorherrschaft zu erlangen.
Mit solchen angeborenen Mängeln und erweitert durch Dr. Strangeloves Armee, ist es kein Wunder, dass aus dieser Schöpfung ein Monster wurde, ein Monster mit 100000 Köpfen, nuklearen Sprengköpfen, ein Monster das Angst und Misstrauen ausatmete und die Fortdauer der menschlichen Gattung auf diesem Planeten bedrohte. Wissenschaftler müssen dafür für sehr viel Rede und Antwort stehen. ||7) The use of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought the Second World War to a dramatic end, but it was also the start of a ferocious nuclear arms race, mainly maintained by scientists from both sides of the iron curtain. Within a few decades both superpowers accumulated more than 100,000 nuclear weapons, which — if used — could have brought the human species to an end. On several occasions, notably during the Cuban Missile Crisis, of October 1952, we came very close to the actual use of the weapons, with catastrophic consequences.||
7) Der Abwurf der Atombomben auf Hiroshima und Nagasaki brachte den zweiten Weltkrieg zu einem dramatischen Ende, aber er war auch der Start für ein grausamen Wettrüsten mit nuklearen Waffen, das hauptsächlich durch Wissenschaftler von beiden Seiten des eisernen Vorhangs aufrecht erhalten wurde. Innerhalb weniger Jahrzehnte häuften die beiden Supermächte mehr als 100000 nukleare Waffen an, die –wenn sie benutzt würden- die menschliche Gattung ausrotten könnten. Bei mehreren Gelegenheiten, besonders während der kubanischen Raketenkrise im Oktober 1952, kamen wir dem tatsächlichen Einsatz der Waffen sehr nah, mit katastrophalen Konsequenzen. ||8) This danger has to be tackled. The preservation of the human species must be our top priority. We cannot allow the miraculous product of billions of years of evolution to come to an end just because we cannot forget our quarrels. We are beholden to our ancestors, to all the previous generations, for bequeathing to us the immense cultural heritage that we enjoy. It is our duty to pass it on to future generations. We owe an allegiance to humanity.||8) Diese Gefahr muss in Angriff genommen werden. Die Erhaltung der menschlichen Gattung muss unsere oberste Priorität sein. Wir können nicht zulassen, dass das wunderbare Erzeugnis von Billionen von Jahren der Evolution zu Ende geht, nur weil wir unsere Streitigkeiten nicht vergessen können. Wir sind unseren Vorfahren und all den vorhergehenden Generationen verpflichtet, für das unermessliche kulturelle Erbe, dass sie uns vermacht haben und das wir weiterzugeben. Es ist unsere Pflicht dies an zukünftige Generationen weiterzureichen. Wir schulden der Menschheit dessen Bewahrung.||9) Nurturing an allegiance to humanity is the duty of each of us, of every citizen, but the duty falls especially heavily on scientists, mainly because scientists understand the problem better than the average politician or citizen, and knowledge brings responsibility.||9) Die Treue zur Menschlichkeit zu nähren ist die Pflicht eines jeden einzelnen von uns, eines jeden Bürgers, aber die Pflicht fällst besonders schwer auf Wissenschaftler, hauptsächlich weil Wissenschaftler das Problem besser verstehen, als der Durchschnittspolitiker oder Bürger und dieses Wissen bringt Verantwortung mit sich. ||10) Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein — together with nine other world-renowned scientists — were the first to call on scientists from both sides of the iron curtain, to fulfil their social responsibility in the nuclear age. They did this in 1955, in a statement that became known as the Russell-Einstein Manifesto. In ringing phrases, the Manifesto describes the dangers that have arisen from the development of weapons of mass destruction:||10) ||11) “We are speaking on this occasion, not as members of this or that nation, continent, or creed, but as human beings, members of the species Man, whose continued existence is in doubt. ||11) ||12) Here then is the problem we present to you, stark and dreadful, and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?” ||12) ||13) The outcome of the Manifesto was the setting up of a Movement of Scientists, called — from the name of the village in Nova Scotia where the First Conference was held — the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. Its basic principle is stated in the following sentence:||13) ||14) The Pugwash Movement is an expression of the awareness of the social and moral duty of scientists to help to prevent and overcome the actual and potential harmful effects of scientific and technological innovations, and to promote the use of science and technology for the purpose of peace.||14) ||15) The main activity of Pugwash is to organize conferences and other types of meetings to discuss the threats that have arisen from the progress of science and technology and seek means to avert them. The participants are invited as individuals, representing nobody but themselves. As a movement of scientists, the discussions are held in the spirit of rational analysis and objective inquiry: as a result agreement on sensitive issues is often reached on the Pugwash forum earlier than at official negotiations; the outputs from Pugwash discussions have frequently served as inputs to official negotiations. They have led to the various treaties, such as the Non-Proliferation treaty of 1968, or the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972, that have put a break on the arms race during the Cold War period and prevented it from turning into a hot war. ||15) ||16) Ascribing the success of Pugwash to the fact that it is a group of scientists does not imply that scientists are a superior class of human beings, that they have more wisdom and fewer faults than other groups in society. It is rather due to their training in the scientific method, the tradition of appraising a problem without prejudice and based on facts. It is this that makes scientists well qualified to tackle the kind of issues taken up by Pugwash issues that lie at the interface between science and politics. ||16) ||17) The importance of the Pugwash effort was acknowledged by Mikhail Gorbachev, when he was President of the Soviet Union. He said:||17) ||18) “Through its activities, due to its scientific and moral authority, Pugwash has contributed in a unique way to averting the military danger, and helped to stop the Cold War, and to achieve profound positive changes in the development of the world.”||18) ||19) The top accolade came in 1995 when Pugwash was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The citation included the following phrases:||19) ||20) “The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 1995, in two equal parts, to Joseph Rotblat, President of Pugwash, and to the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, for their efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international politics and in the longer run to eliminate such arms.||20) ||21) The Conferences are based on the recognition of the responsibility of scientists for their inventions. They have underlined the catastrophic consequences of the use of the new weapons. They have brought together scientists and decision-makers to collaborate across political divides on constructive proposals for reducing the nuclear threat.”||21) ||22) The elimination of war is indeed the ultimate objective of Pugwash, in response to the question posed in the Russell-Einstein Manifesto “Shall we put an end to the human race, or shall mankind renounce war?” Scientists can do much towards this by ensuring that their discoveries are applied for the benefit of humankind, not to its detriment. ||22) ||23) It is of the utmost importance that this purpose of science should be understood and adhered to by young scientists, at the start of their career. It can find expression in a “pledge”, or an “Oath”, somewhat similar to the “Hippocratic Oath” taken by doctors when they receive their degree in medicine.||23) ||24) On the occasion of the Nobel Peace Prize, the US Pugwash Student Group launched a campaign for science graduates to take a pledge on graduation. The text of the pledge reads:||24) ||25) “I promise to work for a better world, where science and technology are used in socially responsible ways. I will not use my education for any purpose intended to harm human beings or the environment. Throughout my career, I will consider the ethical implications of my work before I take action. While the demands placed upon me may be great, I sign this declaration because I recognize that individual responsibility is the first step on the path to peace.”||25) ||26) It would be a great step towards the fulfilment of the scientists’ social responsibility if the taking of such a pledge became a normal practice for young scientists.||26) |