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“Lynch addresses a topic of considerable social importance and encourages academic thought about it. The issue of definition is a very good one, interesting to rhetoric scholars, and highly pertinent to this public issue. It would be of interest to those who study rhetoric, culture, and ethics.” --John Lyne, a professor of communication at the University of Pittsburgh, has written numerous articles and book chapters on the rhetoric of science and bioethics that have appeared in Argumentation and Advocacy, Rhetoric of Public Affairs, and the Quarterly Journal of Speech
"Although bioethical issues surrounding stem cell research during the Bush and Obama administrations form a backdrop, Lynch (communication, Univ. of Cincinnati) is more concerned here with how language is used than with ethical positions. He presents definitions not so much as reflections of reality, but more as malleable tools for shaping public debate and policy. He introduces the idea of "scientistic idioms" to describe how various proponents and opponents of stem cell research incorporate the language of science to bolster their positions. Ironically, critics of stem cell research often use scientific idioms to challenge and undermine the authority of stem cell researchers. Lynch also frames his analysis in terms of a 'Manichean idiom' that presents stem cell research in terms of struggles between good and evil. For proponents of stem cell research, the Manichean idiom may take the form of scientific progress versus benighted religious or political agendas. Opponents may use the same idiom to contrast overreaching science with protection of human values. Lynch's analysis is useful for understanding not only debates over stem cell research, but also contentious issues such as teaching evolution in schools--a topic briefly addressed in the conclusion. Part of the 'Rhetoric, Culture, and Social Critique' series. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals."