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Progress: Paradox for a Democracy

The Advancement of Science, and Its Burdens: The Jefferson Lecture and Other Essays. Gerald Holton. Cambridge University Press, New York, 1986. 351 pp., $39.50 HB, $12.95 PB. Both scientific knowledge and the relations between science and society have undergone dramatic changes in the 20th century. Abstract theories like those of relativity and quantum mechanics have provided a basis for the relatively rapid development of powerful new technologies that affect the lives of all members of societ

Anne Hiskes
The Advancement of Science, and Its Burdens: The Jefferson Lecture and Other Essays. Gerald Holton. Cambridge University Press, New York, 1986. 351 pp., $39.50 HB, $12.95 PB.


Both scientific knowledge and the relations between science and society have undergone dramatic changes in the 20th century. Abstract theories like those of relativity and quantum mechanics have provided a basis for the relatively rapid development of powerful new technologies that affect the lives of all members of society. But the construction and testing of these theories is costly, and so the public is asked to provide financial support. The modern phenomenon of science-based technology has thus brought science and society into a closer relationship.

Modern advances present a democratic society with a paradox. The citizenry has the right—and the burden—to make decisions about the future of science and technology. Yet its increasingly esoteric nature places a second burden on the public,...

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