Science Reason Rhetoric

Science Reason Rhetoric

Henry Krips
J. E. McGuire
Trevor Melia
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  • Book Info
    Science Reason Rhetoric
    Book Description:

    This volume marks a unique collaboration by internationally distinguished scholars in the history, rhetoric, philosophy, and sociology of science. Converging on the central issues of rhetoric of science, the essays focus on figures such as Galileo, Harvey, Darwin, von Neumann; and on issues such as the debate over cold fusion or the continental drift controversy. Their vitality attests to the burgeoning interest in the rhetoric of science.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7041-5
    Subjects: Philosophy, General Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. vii-2)
    Henry Krips, J. E. McGuire and Trevor Melia

    The vitality of the present essays, together with their commentaries, attests to the burgeoning interest in the rhetoric of science. Studies of this important aspect of scientific activity have increased in number significantly over the last decade. Careful attention to the essays gathered here will indicate that the rhetorical prospective brings insights to the study of science not captured by history, sociology, philosophy, anthropology or heremeneutical analysis; that is, rhetoric can occupy a “clearing” that is obscured in these other approaches to science studies. These approaches have “essentialized” their metadiscourses by turning the object of their study—science—into yet...

  4. 1 Science and the Many Faces of Rhetoric
    (pp. 3-12)
    Stephen Toulmin

    For much of the twentieth century, philosophers of science concentrated largely on formal aspects of the logic of induction, such as confirmation theory, so that any proposal to extend the discussion into the rhetoric of science is a breath of fresh air. As little as ten years ago, relations between American departments of philosophy and communication were still antagonistic. For example, the closing of the Dartmouth speech communication department was welcome news to the philosophy department. So it is worthwhile for us to begin by asking how far, and in what ways, questions about the rhetoric of science overlap traditional...

  5. 2 Rhetoric and Rationality in William Harvey’s De Motu Cordis
    (pp. 13-46)
    Gerald J. Massey

    No reasonable person expects historians of science or philosophy to get every episode or event they happen to investigate completely right—if only for want of time and resources. Still, most people seem to think that historians do get the major events largely right. By contrast, the Massey-Hintikka-Newman Law states that in science and philosophy any historical episode that can be misunderstood will be misunderstood to a degree directly proportional to its importance (J. Hintikka and R. Newman are two of the many scholars who have endorsed this law). This law follows as a quasi-corollary from Murphy’s Law, which declares...

  6. 3 The Cognitive Functions of Scientific Rhetoric
    (pp. 47-72)
    Philip Kitcher

    Eve is standing, fascinated, before the tree whose fruit she has been forbidden to eat. Seduced by the words of the serpent, she attends to some aspects of her complex predicament, overlooking others—just as, two hundred or so lines later, Adam too will focus on some features of his situation, and ignore others. The serpent’s rhetoric colors Eve’s way of thinking about her possible actions. She stretches out her hand, and the Fall ensues.

    Science is not to be like that. From the dawn of modern science strenuous announcements have advocated that thinkers are not to be diverted from...

  7. 4 How to Tell the Dancer from the Dance Limits and Proportions in Argument About the Nature of Science
    (pp. 73-94)
    J. E. McGuire and Trevor Melia

    In one of those apercus for which he is justly famous, K. Burke insists that we are, all of us, “rotten with perfection.” The seeming incongruity of the aphorism is somewhat relieved when we learn that the “perfection” alluded to is not that of a Hollywood beauty gyrating to the rhythm of Ravel’sBolero. What Burke has in mind is the Greek notion of perfection as completeness, particularly symbolic completeness. That is the sort of perfection that Russell and Whitehead aspired to when, after 362 pages of manipulation of the arcane notations of symbolic logic, they blandly announce inPrincipia...

  8. 5 The Strong Program in the Rhetoric of Science
    (pp. 95-118)
    Steve Fuller

    How does the rhetoric of science look from the standpoint of Ockham’s Razor? Self-styled rhetoricians of science have been so good at advertising the field’s affinities with literary criticism, discourse analysis, hermeneutics, cultural studies, and relativist philosophies of science that serious scholars of the rhetorical tradition have questioned whether the label “rhetoric” adds anything new (Gaonkar 1993). One reason for proposing a “Strong Program in the Rhetoric of Science” is to alleviate these doubts (Bloor 1976, chap. 1, is the “paradigm” for proposing Strong Programs in science studies).

    However, my primary intent is not separatist. The main reason for promoting...

  9. 6 Producing Sunspots on an Iron Pan Galileo’s Scientific Discourse
    (pp. 119-152)
    R. Feldhay

    In a letter from 1611 J. Blancanus—a Jesuit mathematician—maintained that the moon was mountainous only at its center. The mountains on the moon did not reach its outer circle, which was “entirely lucid, without any shadow or sign of inequality” (Favaro 1968, vol. 11, 127; my translation). This, according to Blancanus, was demonstrated by observation. Galileo Galilei reacted to Blancanus’s contentions, “How, then, do we know that the moon is mountainous? We know it not simply by the senses, but by copying and combining up discourse with observations and sensory appearances” (ibid., 183; my translation). Galileo’s usage of...

  10. 7 Rhetoric and the Cold Fusion Controversy From the Chemists’ Woodstock to the Physicists’ Altamont
    (pp. 153-180)
    Trevor J. Pinch

    Rhetoric is the art of persuasion. More precisely, it may be defined as the systematic attempt by one or more social actors topersuadeother social actors to do something or that something is the case. Rhetoric can be used, for example, by a politician to argue the merits of being a democrat, by a salesperson to promote the bargain status of some goods for sale, or by a scientist to establish the existence or nonexistence of a scientific entity. The means of persuasion can include written texts, such as newspaper articles, sales brochures, or scientific papers; speeches, such as...

  11. 8 American Intransigence The Rejection of Continental Drift in the Great Debates of the 1920s
    (pp. 181-210)
    Robert P. Newman

    T. C. Chamberlin was arguably the most prestigious figure in American geology during the first two decades of the twentieth century. Chamberlin’s reputation was well deserved. His work on the Wisconsin Geological Survey led to great advances in glaciology and the first identification of fossil coral reefs in the United States. When invited, he headed the geology department of W. R. Harper’s new University of Chicago, teaching there until the end of his career, founding and editing theJournal of Geology.

    Chamberlin’s most enduring single publication was probably hisSciencearticle, “The Method of Multiple Working Hypotheses,” published in 1890,...

  12. 9 Topics, Tropes, and Tradition Darwin’s Reinvention and Subversion of the Argument to Design
    (pp. 211-244)
    John Angus Campbell

    On the Origin of Species(Darwin 1967) is a work at once accessible and strange. It speaks so clearly the idiom of the layperson whether of the nineteenth century, or, with certain allowances, of today. The table of contents displays the book’s thematic progression so clearly as to tell its own story, running from “Variation Under Domestication,” to “Variation Under Nature,” to “Struggle for Existence,” to “Natural Selection” without a break. The introduction, “When on board H.M.S. ‘Beagle,’ as naturalist, I was much struck with certain facts …” charms the reader as it tells of the apparently chance beginning of...

  13. 10 Rhetoric in the Context of Scientific Rationality
    (pp. 245-278)
    John Lyne

    This essay explores the possible role and function of rhetoric in the context of scientific rationality, assuming that some of the standard issues concerning scientific rationality itself can be bracketed or otherwise held at bay. I begin by accepting the well-advertised dangers of rhetoric, especially its capacity to woo with words and abrogate better reflective judgement. Plato explored the problem masterfully. Simply put, rhetoricians might generate theappearanceof knowing what they are talking about and manage to persuade others, a skill to be avoided in the context of science. They may also play upon one’s emotions or personal vulnerabilities....

  14. 11 Rhetoric, Ideology, and Desire in von Neumann’s Gründlagen
    (pp. 279-294)
    H. Krips

    Foucault (1984) argues that the human sciences—medical theories of sexuality, criminology, psychology, and so on—have sustained the modern will to power by turning their knowledges to the ideological and rhetorical tasks of legitimizing contemporary power structures. In a more conservative vein, however, he allows that the hard sciences—biology, physiology, chemistry, and physics—eschew the “stubborn will to nonknowledge” (ibid., 55) which grows out of the will to power. Instead, he says, they “partake of that immense will to knowledge which has sustained the establishment of scientific discourse in the West” (ibid.), and thus are relatively free of...

  15. 12 Eddington and the Idiom of Modernism
    (pp. 295-322)
    Gillian Beer

    Arthur Stanley Eddington was not only one of the most distinguished astrophysicists of the 1920s and 1930s and one of the first to recognize the importance of Einstein’s work, he was also, par excellence, the scientist whose writing attracted philosophers and the general public alike. His scientific reputation had been made as early as 1914 by the time of the publication ofStellar Movements and the Structure of the Universe. In 1919 he led the expedition to Brazil to observe the solar eclipse of May 29 which made it possible to verify Einstein’s predictions. Writing in 1933 Lord Samuel remarked...