The Discourses of Science (Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Christi)

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9780226656175: The Discourses of Science (Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Christi)

In this much anticipated revision and translation of Scienza e Retorica, Marcello Pera argues that rhetoric is central to the making of scientific knowledge.

Pera begins with an attack of what he calls the "Cartesian syndrome"—the fixation on method common to both defenders of traditional philosophy of science and its detractors. He argues that in assuming the primacy of methodological rules, both sides get it wrong. Scientific knowledge is neither the simple mirror of nature nor a cultural construct imposed by contingent interests, thus we must replace the idea of scientific method with that of scientific rhetoric.

Pera proposes a new dialectics of science to overcome the tension between normative and descriptive philosophies of science by focusing on the rhetoric in the proposition, defense, and argumentation of theories. Examining the uses of rhetoric in debates drawn from Galileo's Dialogues, Darwin's Origins, and the Big Bang-Steady State controversy in cosmology, Pera shows how the conduct of science involves not just nature and the inquiring mind, but nature, the inquiring mind, and a questioning community which, through the process of attack, defense, and dispute, determines what is science. Rhetoric, then, is an essential element in the constitution of science as the practice of persuasive argumentation through which results gain acceptance.

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From the Back Cover:

In this greatly anticipated revision and translation of Scienza e Retorica, Marcello Pera argues that rhetoric is central to the making of scientific knowledge. Pera begins with an attack on what he calls the "Cartesian syndrome", the fixation on method shared by supporters of both the "standard" and "new" philosophies of science. He argues that in linking scientific rationality to methodological rules, both sides get it wrong. Scientific knowledge is neither the mirror of nature provided by a universal method, nor a cultural construct imposed by subjective interests. Pera proposes to overcome the tension between normative and descriptive philosophies of science by focusing on rhetoric in the construction and acceptance of theories. Examining the uses of argumentation in Galileo's Dialogue, Darwin's Origin, and the big bang-steady state controversy in cosmology, Pera shows that scientific research is not just an interchange between nature and the observer. Rather, science is a three-way interaction among nature, the investigator, and a questioning community which, through the process of attack, defense, and dispute, determines what science is. Rhetoric, then, understood as the practice of scientific argumentation, is an essential element in the constitution of science. As a powerful alternative to dominant philosophies of science and a bold reconsideration of rhetoric and dialectic more broadly, this book addresses contemporary questions in philosophy, rhetoric, history of science, literary criticism, and cognitive science.

About the Author:

Marcello Pera is professor of the philosophy of science at the University of Pisa.

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