Natural Philosophy in the Constitution

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Science  05 Sep 1986:
Vol. 233, Issue 4768, pp. 1056-1060
DOI: 10.1126/science.233.4768.1056


The natural philosophers who wrote the U.S. social contract held the advancement of science to be the supreme exercise of citizen sovereignty. The rising nation, in the late 19th century, established the seat of that sovereignty in its universities. Today those institutions have come to be regarded as contract research centers at the service of the federal government. Research contracts in support of the proposed Strategic Defense Initiative are pressed on them against the consensus of the scientific community that holds this "Star Wars" enterprise to be technically infeasible. The time has come to reconstruct the relation between the federal government and university science in the spirit of our social contract.