Arms Control in Dædalus

Ten influential issues of Dædalus, the Journal of the American Academy, have illuminated the complex ethics, science, national interests, and international relations involved with arms control. Excerpts and citations below, more information about accessing past issues of Daedalus go here.


American Ethics and Public Policy

Author(s): Abraham Kaplan

Daedalus, Vol. 87, No. 2, The American National Style (Spring, 1958), pp. 48-77

Excerpt (p75): We must either leave science alone altogether and forego its transformation of means, or else integrate it with our moral aspirations and forego the fixity of traditional ends. This is the spirit in which I have been urging a realistic political morality, which is to say, a continued reassessment of traditional moral values in the light of contemporary political actualities. A belief is not scientific because it has been "proved " but because it is continuously tested, and tested by conformity to experience rather than to axiomatic truths. It is in this spirit, too, that I have pressed the claims of an empirical, naturalistic theory of value. An ethics which provides a religious or metaphysical foundation for political morality has still to solve the problem of bringing that morality into connection with the world of political action revealed in experience.


Education in Science: Prerequisite for National Survival

Author(s): Philippe LeCorbeiller

Daedalus, Vol. 88, No. 1, Education in the Age of Science (Winter, 1959), pp. 170-174

Excerpt (p170): There is growing concern about American education at the present moment. By "education" we usually mean the education of young people in the schools. But there is, of course, another wide area: adult education. This takes place principally through the press, the radio, and television, and, to a less extent, through books. The major problem in American education just now is how to make adults realize that they are living in an age of science. If this problem could be solved, the schools, which are under the direct control of public opinion, would automatically readjust their programs; they would prepare the young for living in their own life span, a life which will command and apply far more science than ours does.


Recent Policy Making in the United States Government

Author(s): Saville R. Davis

Daedalus, Vol. 89, No. 4, Arms Control (Fall, 1960), pp. 951-966

Extract (p952): …there developed a relatively harmless tradition in politics of paying it lip service, so as not to offend the gentler elements of public opinion, and of ignoring it in practice. This tradition of the white lie carried over into the nuclear age, when the need for arms control revived and caused great havoc before it was exposed. For in the mid-fifties the nuclear arms race began in earnest, and the need to check it began to override the incessant struggle to build a better deterrent. For several critical years the habit of pretending to work for disarmament served to mask the fact that the political leadership of the United States did not want disarmament. More specifically, those in Washington who considered arms control undesirable or impractical clearly had the upper hand in the process of making and administering policy, with the help of others who thought the Russians would never sign anyway, or would sign and cheat.


Public Opinion and the Control of Armaments

Author(s): Ithiel de Sola Pool

Daedalus, Vol. 89, No. 4, Arms Control (Fall, 1960)

Excerpt (p984): The thesis of this essay is that an effective system of arms limitation should embody the conscious use of propaganda as an instrument of control. The thesis rests on two premises which not everyone accepts: that the state of public opinion in the major powers can greatly affect how an arms-control system will function; and that the state of public opinion both at home and abroad is capable of being influenced by a well planned strategy of action.


Scientific Concepts and Cultural Change

Author(s): Harvey Brooks

Daedalus, Vol. 94, No. 1, Science and Culture (Winter, 1965), pp. 66-83

Excerpt (p82): One cannot talk about information without considering noise, which is the random background on which all information must ultimately be recognized. By its very nature noise is the absence of information. When an attempt is made to transmit a definite piece of information in the presence of noise, the noise destroys a definite amount of the information in the transmission process. No transmission system is completely faithful. Noise is, in the first instance, a physical concept; but, as in the case of information and feedback, the concept may be extended in a somewhat vague way to social and biological systems. For example, in evolutionary theory the "noise" is the random variations in the genetic constitution produced by cosmic radiation and other external influences on the genetic material. In the transmission of cultural information, the "information" communicated by a piece of literature or a work of art depends not only upon the intrinsic information content of the work but also on the experience and education of the recipient. Unless the artist and the recipient have had the same experience, the communication is always less than faithful.


The Established Dissenters

Author(s): Don K. Price

Daedalus, Vol. 94, No. 1, Science and Culture (Winter, 1965), pp. 84-116

Excerpt (p87): 1. As a matter of academic and institutional politics, does science, in its potential influence on public policy, seem to be in active rivalry with the older culture, or with institutions that defend a traditional and conservative theory of values?  2. What do scientists think today about the theoretical ability of science to provide the answers to major questions of public policy, or to define a new system of political values? How do their attitudes compare with those of leading theologians?


Science's Restive Public

Author(s): Barbara J. Culliton

Daedalus, Vol. 107, No. 2, Limits of Scientific Inquiry (Spring, 1978), pp. 147-156Daed-Dissenters-1965.pdf

Excerpt (148): If there is no mistaking that the era of public participation in science is upon us, neither can there be much doubt that the majority of scientists are still quite uncomfortable with the idea that anyone other than an investigator and his or her peers should have any voice in decisions about research. The scientists' spectrum of opinion runs from a grudging acceptance of public participation as a cumbersome annoyance to an alarmed view of the public participation movement as a menace to their right of free inquiry. As Massachusetts Senator Ed ward M. Kennedy said, "... academia has been on the defensive. It has chosen to view public scrutiny as a threat to scientific independence. It has chosen to view public involvement in particular research areas as inappropriate and representative of a trend toward antiintellectualism."


Scientific Illiteracy and Democratic Theory

Author(s): Kenneth Prewitt

Daedalus, Vol. 112, No. 2, Scientific Literacy (Spring, 1983), pp. 49-64

Extract (pp 51-52): Consider the range of questions on which the citizen is expected to have an informed view. Will fluoridating the reduce tooth decay? Can statistical modeling estimate the probability of fuel core meltdown in nuclear plants? Are the epidemiological studies sound in concluding that there is no causal connection between Bendectin and birth defects? Can genetic screening of employees reduce the risk of workplace exposure to biochemical dangers? Can radioactive waste material be safely transported and stored? Is insanity a legitimate defense in criminal homicide cases? Has the Green Revolution headed off famine, or has it accelerated the deterioration of the crumb structure of the topsoil? These issues and hundreds of similar ones present models, evidence, and scientific theories that are beyond the comprehension of any save a small number of experts.


The Advancement of Science, and Its Burdens

Author(s): Gerald Holton

Daedalus, Vol. 115, No. 3, Art and Science (Summer, 1986), pp. 75, 77-104

Extract (p81): I have been pointing to a polarization that is pitting two groups, once allies, against each other: one, chiefly scientists and their followers, including technology enthusiasts, is cheered by the promise of ever greater scientific advances; the other is depressed and fearful in the wake of these very advances. How did this separation come about?


On Fear, Uncertainty & Scientific Progress

Author(s): Arthur Kantrowitz

Daedalus, Vol. 131, No. 4, On Beauty (Fall, 2002), pp. 124-128

Extract (p126): In providing the scientific basis for the formulation of policy, predictions are usually required; the ability to forecast new technologies would indeed be particularly useful. But predictions are con founded by technological surprises, whose essence was nicely captured by Adlai Stevenson Sr. in 1964 at the dedication of the Xerox Laboratory for Basic Research. Commenting on the efforts of a distinguished committee assembled by President Roosevelt in 1937 to predict technological advances of the next quarter-century, Stevenson said, "I find myself on a par with the greatest scie tific minds of the time - for I, too, failed to foresee nuclear energy, antibiotics, radar, the electronic computer, and rocketry." Stevenson's quip is the best answer to today's fear-mongers and neo Malthusians who pretend to scientific knowledge they do not possess. Nevertheless, predictions of catastrophe usually claim scientific foundations ; so often we are told that 'mainstream scientists' warn of imminent disaster. Later, when the fear quietly fades away, some of the credibility of science fades away with it.

Extract (p127): It gradually became clear to me that a completely open procedure for assessing what science does and doesn't know threatened the power of the Washington science-policy establishment. The power of that establishment was seen again more recently, in 1997, when the NAS easily obtained a congressional exemption from the openness requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act.