My intention is to consider political science as a discipline and as a profession in relation to the impact of the physical and biological sciences and of engineering upon the life of man. I propose to inquire into the possible reconciliation of man's mastery over Nature with freedom, the overriding goal of policy in our body politic.In the interest of concreteness I shall have something to say about past and potential applications of science in three areas: armament, production, and evolution.It is trite to acknowledge that for years we have lived in the afterglow of a mushroom cloud and in the midst of an arms race of unprecedented gravity. Here I shall support a proposition that may at first evoke some incredulous exclamations. The proposition is that our intellectual tools have been sufficiently sharp to enable political scientists to make a largely correct appraisal of the consequences of unconventional weapons for world politics.
What is the logic of an information law which:• makes available a State Department Memorandum rationalizing the President's use of troops overseas without congressional consent, but has thus far failed to make available World War II documents concerning allegedly repatriated Russian soldiers,• which makes available a Federal Trade Commission staff study on auto warranties but leaves numerous other advisory studies difficult to locate and their status unclear,• breaks loose a key Federal Reserve Board vote but has thus far left the votes and minutes of other multi-member agencies difficult to locate?The answer is that the logic is not in the law itself, but in the kind of pressure put upon the bureaucracy to follow it. The Freedom of Information Act which became effective July 4, 1967 is not self enforcing. It depends upon the initiative and energy of those who want government information, giving them a tool with which to prod an unwilling bureaucracy. To date, this prodding has come principally from the press and interested business organizations; meaning that the information made available has been oriented toward the single news story, often an expose, or the isolated regulatory decision. This is certainly a valuable use of the Act but the pressure of interested citizens is not sufficient to force the government to make available the scope of information and indexing needed for scholarly research.The organized scholarly community, while traditionally supporting the principle of free access to government information, has made no systematic effort to either assess the newly available information or to pry loose information presently withheld.
PROFESSOR LAZARSFELD ONCE REFERRED TO SOCIOLOGY AS BEING IN A sense a residuary legatee, the surviving part of a very general study, out of which specializations have successively been shaped.The same might be said of political science. In the West the first deliberate and reflective studies of political life were made in Greece at the end of the th century BC, and in the succeeding century. The histories of Herodotus and Thucydides, some of the pamphlets attributed to Xenophon, above all the normative and empirical studies of Plato and Aristotle were among the direct ancestors of contemporary political science. Parallel examples are to be found in the intellectual history of China, India and Islam. It seems that at certain stages in the development of great societies questions of legitimacy, power and leadership assume supreme importance; and intense intellectual effort, using the best analytical tools available, is devoted to the study of man as brought to a focus in the study of politics.