CFP: The Dilemmas of Upright Scientists

November 14-15, 2016, Tel Aviv University

Call for papers

During World War I, scientists from diverse European countries who had worked together harmoniously faced the question of how to respond to close colleagues instantly transformed into enemies. It was not national identification that perplexed them ,but the opposing claims on their allegiance and the uncertainty about what loyalty to friends, colleagues, and internationalist ideals required. The Dilemmas of an Upright Man, John Heilbron’s book on Max Planck, describes how the scrupulous and thoughtful German physicist dealt with these and similar dilemmas. Now available in Hebrew, Heilbron’s book can serve as a stimulus and benchmark for studies of similar dilemmas and their resolutions in other times and circumstances. How have scientists acted when urged to agitate for political change? How should they have acted? Silence can appear to be acquiescence; outspokenness may mix science dangerously with politics. Planck distressed himself over such dilemmas. How have they evolved since?

Taking Planck’s case as exemplary of the difficulty, but not of the variety, of ethical questions peculiar to science, we seek proposals for panels and individual papers for a symposium to take place in Tel Aviv University on 14-15 November 2016. We shall try to put together a program that covers a broad spectrum of such ethical challenges, from expert witnessing to experimentation on humans. Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the ethics of nuclear and other non-conventional weapons in and after WWII, late-20th century privatization of science, debate over climate change, deployment of science in totalitarian regimes, involvement of scientific institutions in political boycotts, and squaring scientific conviction with religious belief, huckstering and misrepresentation.

Proposals should include a preliminary title (or titles if for a panel) and a 500-word abstract for each paper. We shall consider financial assistance for scholars who are unable to get support for their travel from their own institution.

Please, send your proposal to Yuliana Litov, managing director of Minerva Humanities Center at Tel Aviv University ( by March 1st .

Deadline: March 1, 2016

Posted: January 22, 2016