Shaping Science with Rhetoric: The Cases of Dobzhansky, Schrodinger, and Wilson

Shaping Science with Rhetoric: The Cases of Dobzhansky, Schrodinger, and Wilson

by Leah Ceccarelli
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0226099067

ISBN-13: 9780226099064

Pub. Date: 07/28/2001

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

How do scientists persuade colleagues from diverse fields to cross the disciplinary divide, risking their careers in new interdisciplinary research programs? Why do some attempts to inspire such research win widespread acclaim and support, while others do not?

In Shaping Science with Rhetoric, Leah Ceccarelli addresses such questions through close readings

Overview

How do scientists persuade colleagues from diverse fields to cross the disciplinary divide, risking their careers in new interdisciplinary research programs? Why do some attempts to inspire such research win widespread acclaim and support, while others do not?

In Shaping Science with Rhetoric, Leah Ceccarelli addresses such questions through close readings of three scientific monographs in their historical contexts—Theodosius Dobzhansky's Genetics and the Origin of Species (1937), which inspired the "modern synthesis" of evolutionary biology; Erwin Schrödinger's What Is Life? (1944), which catalyzed the field of molecular biology; and Edward O. Wilson's Consilience (1998), a so far not entirely successful attempt to unite the social and biological sciences. She examines the rhetorical strategies used in each book and evaluates which worked best, based on the reviews and scientific papers that followed in their wake.

Ceccarelli's work will be important for anyone interested in how interdisciplinary fields are formed, from historians and rhetoricians of science to scientists themselves.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226099064
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
07/28/2001
Edition description:
1
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

Prefaceix
1Inspiring Interdisciplinarity1
Texts That Seek to Catalyze Community: An Unexamined Genre of Science3
The Close Textual-Intertextual Analysis: Combining Rhetorical Criticism and Historical Research6
ITheodosius Dobzhansky's Genetics and the Origin of Species
2The Initiator of the Evolutionary Synthesis: Historians and Scientist Weigh In13
Conflict between Disciplines and Theories15
The Evolutionary Synthesis19
What Launched the Synthesis?21
The Influence of Dobzhansky's Genetics and the Origin of Species24
Prelude to a Rhetorical Reading29
3A Text Rhetorically Designed to Unite Competing Fields31
Simplifying Theory31
Surveying the Results of Research37
Using Language That Promotes Conceptual Change41
Addressing Social Concerns45
Conclusions56
IIErwin Schrodinger's What Is Life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell
4The "Uncle Tom's Cabin" of the Molecular Biology Revolution: Assessing the Place of a Text in History61
The Influence of Schrodinger's Text63
The Value of Untrue, Unoriginal Science67
Other Laws of Physics75
Prelude to a Rhetorical Reading80
5A Text Rhetorically Designed to Negotiate Different Interests and Beliefs82
Comparison with Other Attempts at Inspiring Interdisciplinary Work83
Negotiating Common Ground: The Value of Precision89
Negotiating Professional Goals: The Appeal to Ambition90
Negotiating Disciplinary Linguistic Practices: Conceptual Chiasmus92
Negotiating Ideological Commitments: Strategic Ambiguity97
Conclusions109
IIIEdward O. Wilson's Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge
6The Controversy over Sociobiology: Scholars Offer Conflicting Explanations113
Wilson's Purpose113
The Effect of Wilson's Interdisciplinary Appeals116
Explanation 1: Wilson Is Wrong; The Cultural Divide Should Not Be Bridged119
Explanation 2: Critics Are Unable to See the Truth Because of Political Bias121
Prelude to a Rhetorical Reading124
7A Text Rhetorically Designed to Fuel Interdisciplinary Hostilities128
A Rhetoric of Conquest, Not Negotiation129
An Explicit Commitment to Reductionism139
Equivocation Rather Than Productive Polysemy145
What Wilson's Consilience Could Have Been148
IVSpeaking to Multiple Audiences
8The Genre157
Comparison of Dobzhansky and Schrodinger158
Wilson's Participation in the Genre164
9Contributions to Four Ongoing Conversations168
Rhetoric of Science168
Rhetorical Inquiry170
History of Science177
Interdisciplinarity179
Bibliography183
Index199

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