ERIC Number: EJ824640
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Sep
Reference Count: 26
Rhetoric of Science: Oxymoron or Tautology?
Ornatowski, Cezar M.
Writing Instructor, Sep 2007
Until recently, the notion of a "rhetoric of science" may have sounded oxymoronic. Traditional conceptions of science as the embodiment of disinterested, objective knowledge of nature, coupled with perceptions of rhetoric as empty verbiage, subterfuge, or stylistic embellishment, made science and rhetoric appear quite incompatible. However, recent developments in the history of science (especially the work of Thomas Kuhn) and the sociology of scientific knowledge, coupled with conceptions of rhetoric more suitable to scientific discourse, have led to a gradual reconceptualization of the relationship between science and rhetoric. As a result, there appears to be now, at least among rhetoricians, "general agreement that science is indeed a rhetorical enterprise". There is less agreement, however, on the extent to which science is indeed rhetorical, or even on the exact nature of science's involvement with rhetoric. Beginning in the mid-1970s and intensifying in the 1980s, work in what has come to be known as the rhetoric of science has advanced a variety of rhetorical approaches to science--from relatively commonsensical, focusing on the use of language in scientific writing, to radically anti-empiricist, challenging the very foundations of traditional views of science and scientific knowledge. This article outlines the major premises underlying these approaches and then summarizes some major conceptions of rhetoric of science representative of the major issues and debates involved.
Descriptors: Language Usage, Rhetoric, Scientific Principles, Epistemology, Technical Writing, Discourse Analysis, Logical Thinking
Purdue University (with California State University, San Marcos). Department of English, 500 Oval Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47906. Tel: 765-494-3772; Fax: 765-494-3780; Web site: http://www.writinginstructor.com
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A