A Text Rhetorically Designed to Unite Competing Fields

in Shaping Science with Rhetoric

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2001 | ISBN: 9780226099064
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226099088 | DOI:
A Text Rhetorically Designed to Unite Competing Fields

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This chapter discusses some of the rhetorical maneuvers that can be discovered through a study of Dobzhansky's text in its social and intellectual context. The tools that Dobzhansky used to amplify his explanations were thought experiments and the description of experimental or field reports that corroborated the results of the mathematical theories. The rhetorical strategy that Dobzhansky used to introduce these data is called prolepsis, or “anticipatory refutation,” in which an opposition argument is anticipated and directly countered by the rhetoric. Dobzhansky used prolepsis to bring out into the open, and then refute with data from experiments, the arguments against a new evolutionary synthesis that would be offered by skeptical naturalists and geneticists. The semantic distinctions between statics and dynamics show that the dimensions must be combined to create a complete understanding of biology. The former concerns the forces that bring about change in the genetic composition of a population, the latter the interaction of forces in the formation and disintegration of races and species.

Keywords: Dobzhansky; rhetorical; evolutionary synthesis; dynamics; statics

Chapter.  12367 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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