LECTURE NOTES, Soshichi Uchii

For assignments, see the bottom of this page.

Part 1

The Problem of the social responsibility of the scientist is now one of the popular topics in the philosophy of science, as well as in the science studies in general. I wish to address myself to this problem, in the light of more specific studies on (1) the circumstances with respect to "the scientist's role" in the 19th century, on (2) the well- known case of the Manhattan Project for nuclear weapons, and on (3) the recent discussions on this problem in Japan.

As regards (1), I wish to focus my attention mainly on Michael Faraday, one of the most important founders of electro-magnetic theory and technology. Needless to say, the electro-magnetic theory and its applications in technology are one of the vital elements in the contemporary science, and in our contemporary life as well; thus we have good reasons for choosing this subject for drawing materials from this area, for our main topic and for illustrating the relationship between science and technology, including "the scientist's role in society" viewed by scientists themselves and by the general public.

Faraday is particularly interesting because he belonged to a small Protestant sect called "Glasites" or "Sandamanians", and some recent studies show that his behavior and views may be well understood from this perspective.

Materials on (2) and (3) are already on the web, and the reader is referred to "Philosophy of Science in Japan", and "The Responsibility of the Scientist"; new materials may be added soon.

Materials on the Web

Faraday and Joseph Henry, April 28; revised June 1

Royal Institution and Faraday, April 23

Biographies of Michael Faraday (Newsletter 25), May 6

Book Review by S. Uchii: A. E. Moyer, Joseph Henry (Newsletter 26), June 8

Nuclear Physics, revised May 25

Szilard Documents, June 1

The Responsibility of the Scientist, English version, June 22

Book Review by Uchii: Glenn T. Seaborg, A Chemist in the White House (Newsletter 27), August 4

Book Review by Uchii: J. Takagi, Towards the Citizen's Science (Newsletter 28), September 14

Bohr on the Nuclear Problem, September 28

Book Review by Uchii, Martin Harwit, An Exhibit Denied (Newsletter 29), October 4


Cantor, G. (1991) Michael Faraday: Sandamanian and Scientist, Macmillan, 1991.

L. Pearce Williams (1965), Michael Faraday, Chapman and Hall, 1965.

The Royal Institution of Great Britain (website; contains Faraday's bio.)

Faraday Note

[other references in my web sites referred to above]






The class will be resumed on October 26

Part 2

We have discussed the problem of nuclear weapons, and the role of scientists in relation to this problem. We will now leave this topic and move on to another: the problems related to eugenics.

A very good book on this topic is:

Daniel J. Kevles, In the Name of Eugenics, University of California Press, 1985. [Japanese translation available, but its quality is poor. 『優生学の名のもとに』西俣総平訳、朝日新聞社、1993]

The following also touches on eugenics (in terms of the notion of "progress") in many places, and many biologists's views on eugenics:

Michael Ruse, From Monad to Man, Harvard Univ. Press, 1996

The word "eugenics" was coined in 1883 by the English scientist Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin. Galton, who pioneered the mathematical treatment of heredity, took the word from a Greek root meaning "good in birth" or "noble in heredity". He intended it to denote the "science" of improving human stock by giving "the more suitable races or strains of blood a better chance of prevailing speedily over the less suitable". Since Galton's day, "eugenics" has become a word of ugly connotations---and deservedly. In the first half of the twentieth century, eugenic aims merged with misinterpretations of the new science of genetics to help produce cruelly oppressive and, in the era of the Nazis, barborous social results. Nonetheless, in recent years, Galtonian premises have continued to figure in social discourse---notably in the claims of those arguing for a racial basis of intelligence, in certain tenets of human sociobiology, and in some proposals for human genetic engineering.

... The history of modern physics (a field in which I have previously worked) reveals how unprepared we were to deal with the momentous issues that the release of nuclear energy---a feat requiring only a few years of concentrated effort---suddenly compelled us to confront in 1945. In 1963 the great British biologist J.B.S.Haldane declared that the genetic modification of man was likely to be still millennia away, but he added: "I remember that in 1935 I regarded nuclear energy as an improbable source of power". Acquisition of the knowledge and techniques for human genetic intervention would pose challenges which, while different in kind from those of the nuclear revolution, may be comparable in magnitude, and it is none too soon to examine them in historical context. (From Preface)


1. Francis Galton, Founder of the Faith

2. Karl Pearson for Saint Biometrika

3. Charles Davenport and the Worship of Great Concepts

4. The Gospel becomes Popular

5. Deterioration and Deficiency

6. Measures of Regeneration

7. Eugenic Enactments

8. A Coalition of Critics

9. False Biology

10. Lionel Penrose and the Colchester Survey

11. A Reform Eugenics

12. Brave New Biology

13. The Establishment of Human Genetics

14. Apogee of the English School

15. Blood, Big Science, and Biochemistry

16. Chromosomes---the Binder's Mistakes

17. A New Eugenics

18. Varieties of Presumptuousness

19. Songs of Deicide

Materials on the Web (new items will be added soon)

Francis Galton (in our Gallery)

Karl Pearson (in our Gallery)

Uchii's review of the Japanese translation of Hacking's Taming of Chance

Francis Galton, a site in James Cook University, Australia recommended

Galton biographical notes

Galton 1865 papers Visit

Galton's Quincunx

Galton's Symmetric Studies of Stature

Pearson biographical notes Revised Dec. 9

Charles Davenport (A Science Odyssey site)

Darwin on Eugenics

Kevles on Pearson's Eugenics

Davenport biographical notes

Eugenics becomes popular Revised Nov. 26

Eugenics timeline 1901-30 Revised Dec. 7

See the photo of a Fitter Family (A Science Odyssey site)

Critics of Eugenics

Haldane on Eugenics (mostly Japanese) Revised Dec. 9

第二回課題 締め切り10月26日(火)

社会のなかで科学者が果たす役割や、科学者を取り巻く状況は、ファラディやヘンリーの時代と二十世紀中葉とでは、共通点も多いが大きな違いもある。「科学者の責任」を考えるという視点から、その共通点と違いとを(これまでに取り上げた事例にできるだけ即して)簡潔に分析してみよ。 2000字以内

模範解答 New!

第三回課題 締め切り11月9日(火)

Galton 1865 papers, 1st paper の要旨、1200字以内。

Last modified December 2, 2002. (c) Soshichi Uchii