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The Responsibility of the Scientist

Uchii, Soshichi (2000) The Responsibility of the Scientist. [Preprint]

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The problems of the social responsibility of the scientist became a subject of public debate after the World War II in Japan, thanks to the activities and publications of Yukawa and Tomonaga. And such authors as J. Karaki, M.Taketani, Y. Murakami, and S. Fujinaga continued discussion in their books. However, many people seem to be still unaware of the most important source of these problems. As I see it, one of the most important treatments of these problems was the Franck Report (June 11, 1945) submitted to the US government by James Franck (chairman) toward the end of the war. This Report contains many important ideas and suggestions as regards the responsibility of the scientist, the morality of the use of atomic bombs, the prospective nuclear armaments race, and the possibility of international control of nuclear power. However, I should like to concentrate only on the first topic in this paper. Why did Franck and his committee at Metallurgical Laboratory of the University of Chicago feel the urgent need for writing and submitting this Report? According to the Report, "in the past, scientists could disclaim direct responsibility for the use to which mankind had put their disinterested discoveries. We cannot take the same attitude now because the success which we have achieved in the development of nuclear power is fraught with infinitely greater dangers than were all the inventions of the past." (I. Preamble) This passage seems to contain the crux of our problem: These scientists clearly recognize the "new" responsibility for them, and the ground of this responsibility is also clear enough; i.e., when a new scientific discovery or invention turns out to have grave bearings on human interests, the scientists who became aware of that are responsible for notifying people of this and advise to look for suitable means for avoiding prospective dangers. In the rest of the paper, I elaborate the reasoning behind the preceding passage, and confirm that basically the same idea and reasoning has been repeated and developed in Russell-Einstein Manifesto (1955), by Pugwash Conferences (first in 1957), by Tomogana, and by Rotblat (the long-time Secretary of Pugwash, who received the Nobel Peace Prize together with the Conference in 1995).

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Item Type: Preprint
Uchii, Soshichi
Keywords: scientist, responsibility, atomic bomb, Franck Report
Subjects: General Issues > Ethical Issues
General Issues > Science and Society
Depositing User: Soshichi Uchii
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2001
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 15:10
Item ID: 164

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