Our basic objective is to examine the scientific developments through history and how they affect human life and society. To meet that objective we will first develop tools to analyze the relationship between science and the increasingly complex decisions we have to make regarding the way we apply science for human welfare.
If we have learned anything at all about the uses of science in the second half of this century, it is that it has had an unmistakable influence on contemporary trends and outcomes. Science has helped to make the world smaller, spatially, and larger, numerically. It has multiplied our choices and scaled up our risks. Based on science we have put humans into space and opened a new arena for warfare. Science has illuminated human beginnings and shaken age-old postulates about human worth and destiny. Science has unlocked material abundance and laid new burdens on irreplaceable resources. It has expanded human potential and dramatized human limits. It has advanced clarity and magnified uncertainty. It has penetrated the deepest reaches of knowledge and held a world hostage on the edge of crisis.
We have no reason to suppose that science will abate its influence upon trends and outcomes and many reasons to expect that it will continue to shape society's choices and dilemmas. What is unprofitable is to try to outguess the rate of advancing knowledge and the forms and effects of its application through technology. But it is a very different matter to recognize and array the emergent national and global issued confronting humans on this planet and to explore with care the contributions that science could make in managing such issues.
Each of us lives with a modern paradox; how can we continue to enjoy the benefits of science and avoid the threat of its misuse or abuse to endanger life and nature? Responses to this paradox have been many, but seldom anything but emotional and impotent in making any useful changes. Among the...