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What a Difference a Decade Makes: The Planning Debates and the Fate of the Unity of Science Movement

  • George A. ReischEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science book series (BSPS, volume 336)

Abstract

This paper examines selected writings of the American science writer Waldemar Kaempffert, Science Editor for the New York Times, in public support of Otto Neurath, his Isotype projects, and his Unity of Science Movement. Attention is focused first on Kaempffert’s writings in the 1930s, when some intellectuals, the American public, and their elected leaders were relatively sympathetic with Neurath’s quest to unify the sciences in ways that would advance and direct scientific research toward practical goals. Attention then turns to the 1940s to examine the debate over the nature, scope, and limits of wartime research and Vannevar Bush’s call for a national institution to support research. Against Bush, James Bryant Conant, and others, Kaempffert argued vigorously for a foundation that would adopt values and methods of the Unity of Science Movement, but he lost that argument as the National Science Foundation finally took shape. To suggest that this public debate influenced not only the decline of Neurath’s Unity of Science Movement but the scholarly development of history and philosophy of science after the war, the paper considers early writings and events in the life of Conant’s protégé Thomas Kuhn, whose Structure of Scientific Revolutions helped shape that development.

Notes

Acknowledgement

I thank Günther Sandner for pointing out Modley’s importance to me, as well as spirited commentary from others at the conference ‘The Socio-Ethical Dimension of Knowledge: The Mission of Logical Empiricism,’ Budapest, December 2017.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ChicagoUSA

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