Scientists and the State: The Legacy of World War II

  • Michael Fortun
  • Sylvan S. Schweber
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 151)


A convincing case can be made that the principal events shaping the twentieth century until the nineteen nineties have been wars: World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam. The two world wars changed the practice of science. Among many other things, both wars highlighted the value to the state of scientists and scientific institutions. But in contrast to the first world war, the second altered the character of science in a fundamental and irreversible way.1 The importance and magnitude of the contribution to the war effort of engineers and scientists, particularly physicists, changed the relationship between scientists and the state. Already during the war, and with ever greater emphasis after the war with the onset of the Cold War, the armed forces in the United States, particularly the Navy and the Army Air Force, realizing that the future security of the nation and its dominance as a world power depended on the creativity of its scientific communities and the strength of its institutions of higher education, invested heavily in their support and expansion. From the mid-forties to the mid-fifties a close relationship was cemented between scientists and the military. Physicists played a key role in these developments and our paper was an outgrowth of an inquiry into the special skills and characteristics that made their contributions so central until the early sixties.


Operation Research Operation Research Scientific Management Atomic Bomb Biographical Memoir 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Fortun
    • 1
  • Sylvan S. Schweber
    • 1
  1. 1.Harvard UniversityUSA

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