The Rhetorical Dimension of Stephen Jay Gould's Work

Ana Barahona and Vladimir Cachón

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Biology

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9780195182057
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 The Rhetorical Dimension of Stephen Jay Gould's Work

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This article throws light on an important topic of study that is rhetoric, which is debated as neutral tool for bringing about agreements, or an immoral activity that ends in manipulation. There are different versions of rhetoric given by various scientists. It has important social roles such as the testing of ideas, giving shape to knowledge, and deducing responses from someone having an opposing view. Gould's articles help us to understand the use of specific rhetorical strategies and tools, during the debate around the theory of punctuated-equilibria. This is done by using a philosophical approach which distrusts the interpretation of fossil records given by most paleontologists, by using specific visual representations that suggested that the competing theory was committed to the idea of slow evolution at a constant rate, and by presenting the theory of paleontology along with modern synthesis. Rhetorical communication is intimately involved in the assessment of claims and discoveries.

Keywords: rhetoric; fossil; view; strategies; evolution; theory

Article.  10527 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science

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