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1 J. Legal & Pol. Soc. 115 (1942)
A Note on Science and Democracy

handle is hein.journals/jolegpo1 and id is 115 raw text is: A NOTE ON SCIENCE AND DEMOCRACY
by ROBERT K. MERTON
SCIENCE, as any other activity involving social collaboration, is
subject to shifting fortunes. Difficult as the very notion may appear
to those reared in a culture which grants science a prominent if not a
commanding place in the scheme of things, it is evident that science is
not immune from attack, restraint and repression. Writing a scant
thirty-five years ago, Veblen could observe that the faith of western
culture in science was unbounded, unquestioned, unrivalled. The revolt
from science which then appeared so improbable as to concern only
the timid academician who would jonder all contingencies, however
remote, has now been forced upon the attention of scientist and layman
alike. Local contagions of anti-intellectualism threaten to become
epidemic.
Incipient and actual attacks upon the integrity of science have led
scientists to recognize their dependence on particular types of social
structure. Manifestos and pronouncements by associations of scientists
are devoted to the relations of science and society. An institution under
attack must reexamine its foundations, restate its objectives, seek out its
rationale. Crisis invites self-appraisal. Now that they have been con-
fronted with challenges to their way of life, scientists have been jarred
into a state of acute self-consciousness: consciousness of self as an in-
tegral element of society with corresponding obligations and interests.
A tower of ivory becomes untenable when its walls are under assault.
After a prolonged period of relative security, during which the 'pursuit
and diffusion of knowledge' had risen to a leading place if indeed not
the first rank in the scale of cultural values, scientists are compelled
to vindicate the ways of science to man. Thus they have come full
circle to the point of the re-emergence of science in the modem world.
Three centuries ago, when the institution of science could claim little
independent warrant for social support, natural philosophers were
likewise led to justify science as a means to the culturally validated
ends of economic utility and glorification of God. The pursuit of
science was then no self-evident value. With the unending flow of
achievement, however, the instrumental was transformed into the ter-
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