Call for Papers for the 2004 American Society for 18th-Century Studies Conference in Boston (March 24-28, 2004)
Session title: Science and common good / Science et bien public
Brief description: Mathieu Tillet (1714-1791), a metallurgical scholar, worked upon ductility and corn diseases. He explained in 1755 that between the two possible aims of his researches – common good (bien public) and improvement in physics (progres de la physique) – he favored the first goal, one which concerns all men as citizens and not only some of them as learned people. This kind of declaration is very common during the 18th century in relation for example to seeking improvement in trades or in agriculture. Science is more and more presented as a means to improve the human condition. We can find already this kind of aim during the 17th century – for example in Locke – but it became very common during the 18th century; often the goal of improving the human conditions and works proposed by numerous authors as a justification for the science. Following the empirism – of Hume – and the sensualism – of Condillac – before the utilitarianism, science seemed for some authors to have no other aim. Some learned persons or learned groups leaned on that to propose a useful role for their particular field of science. Some political or administrative persons or groups incited the learned world to work out different useful problems. This session seeks to put together perspectives from different fields so to better define this movement in favour of the utility of sciences – a key feature of the new societies.
Paper proposals (of no more than 500 words in length) should reach me no later than September 15.