Discoveries and the Normative Structure of Soviet Science
IN 1934, the American Association for the Advancement of Science published a special supplement entitled "The Protection by Patents of Scientific Discoveries."1 Aware of the current debates in the League of Nations and elsewhere about scientific property, the AAAS attempted to present the scientists' viewpoint on the issue. This document reveals many of the prevailing norms held by scientists in the United States about their work. It also reminds us that the question of the protection of discoveries is not just a legal problem, but strikes at the foundation of how scientists see their role in society and what values they attach to what they are doing. Although the norms expressed have undergone many changes over the years, it might be useful to cite some of the advantages and disadvantages that scientists saw in the central idea of legal protection of discoveries.
There were few American scientists who saw any value in the idea of patent protection of discoveries. Most felt that if a case might be made that such a system would provide incentives for research and aid in the reduction of secrecy, there were more important reasons for rejecting the idea. The most frequently cited objection was that it was "unethical" for scientists or professors to patent the results of their work.2 It was also believed that patenting would involve scientists in commercial pursuits and leave little time for research. Scientists questioned the need for such a system, stressing that open publication and dedication to the public good were sufficient to communicate the results of their work. Thus, it was argued, although the public sometimes ignores the scientists' freely given contributions, patenting would lead to a debasement of research, even if