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Rhetoric of Science

Alan G. Gross

Subject Linguistics
Communication Studies » Rhetorical Studies

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


The rhetoric of science is the application of the resources of the rhetorical tradition to the texts, tables, and visuals of the sciences. It is a relatively new form of →  rhetorical criticism that began over half a century ago with studies in science policy, shifted in the past quarter century to studies of science itself, and, in the past decade has evolved methodologically from case studies to forms more amenable to wide generalization. Rhetoric of science begins with studies of science policy, an area that involves deliberative issues that fall readily within the traditional concerns of those trained in rhetorical analysis. Nevertheless, so strong was the traditional focus of the emerging discipline of speech on political oratory that the first rhetorical analysis of science policy was not made until 1953 (→  Rhetorical Studies ; Speech Communication, History of ). In this study, Richard Weaver is concerned with an early climax in a continuing conflict in American public education, the place of evolution in the public-school biology curriculum. The focus of Weaver's study is the Scopes trial. In that trial, he concludes, the prosecution and the defense argued at cross-purposes. The issue at hand was not the law against teaching evolution, but the legality of Scopes's conduct under the law. Given this issue, the scientific testimony in favor of evolution was irrelevant. Indeed, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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