The natural business of a scientist : the atomic scientists' movement in America
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This thesis examines the activities and beliefs of a group of scientists, mostly former Manhattan Project workers, who were politically active in the years immediately following WWII. Their organized activities formed what we call the Atomic Scientists' Movement. Through groups including the Federation of American Scientists, the Atomic Scientists of Chicago, and the Association of Los Alamos Scientists, and publications including the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, these men and women promoted policies of civilian control of atomic research and some form of international agreement governing the manufacture and use of atomic devices. In spite of frequent requests by their critics to constrain their official opinion to matters of established scientific fact, these movement scientists were either unable or unwilling to make such a distinction: in the years following the war, these scientists claimed expert authority over all things nuclear, whether that be the nuclear laboratory or atomic energy politics. This paper argues that this perspective on science and society is very similar to that explored from the 1960s forward by individuals doing work in the history & sociology of science, or "science studies" and works particularly with the work of Bruno Latour in order to name and explain the issues at work in the scientists' movement's redefinition of a scientist's proper place. The work of the movement scientists provided an entirely new way of thinking and popularized that way of thinking, fifteen to twenty years before those same ideas gained currency in the formal academic world. For those who recognized it, the atomic bomb provided the catalyst for the dissolution of conventional boundaries between science and society: from that point forward, for at least some part of the American public, politics clearly and obviously affected the pursuit of science, and scientists clearly and obviously had relevant perspectives on social issues.