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The Rhetoric of Science [Paperback]

Alan G Gross


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Book Description

30 Aug 1996
Alan Gross applies the principles of rhetoric to the interpretation of classical and contemporary scientific texts to show how they persuade both author and audience. The text considers the ways in which scientists - from Copernicus to Darwin to Newton to James Watson - establish authority and convince one another and us of the truth they describe.

Product details

  • Paperback: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; 1st Harvard University Press Pbk. Ed edition (30 Aug 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674768760
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674768765
  • Product Dimensions: 23.3 x 15.4 x 1.8 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,626,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Gross makes his case for a rhetorical analysis of science with impressive virtuosity. His examples range from Copernican astronomy to contemporary peer review, from optics to oncology, and from Darwin's private notebooks to recent debates about recombinant DNA.--John Durant "Times Literary Supplement "

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3 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review of The Rhetoric of Science 19 Feb 2009
By Robert Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Gross wishes to claim a greater importance for linguistic practice in science. Knowledge is of an approximate character. Our formalisms abstract and simplify. Each formalism is an idealization, often times approximating in its own DIFFERENT ways, each offering somewhat different coverage of the knowledge domain. (Changing what science is and how it's done, Bull. Am. Physical Soc., March 2009 meeting, Amer. Physical Soc., R. Jones)

We don't deal in "laws" but rather in arguments. Even mathematical proofs come in varying degrees of certainty. None are simply true or false. A formal grammar has the same power as a formal logic. We do not have a formal grammar which encompasses all of natural language, however, and the machinery of finite and continuous systems of mathematics DO make certain scientific reasoning easier.

Each "language" ( be it natural language, some formal language, some logic, etc.) makes it easy to say certain things but difficult to express others. One language can not necessarily be translated completely into some other arbitrary language. Concepts formalized in one logic/language may not exactly correspond to concepts formalized in another. Having MULTIPLE overlapping theories of a knowledge domain is then better than having just one theory (written in one language) If you have more languages at your command you can think more thoughts.
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