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Shaping Science with RhetoricThe Cases of Dobzhansky, Schrodinger, and Wilson$
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Leah Ceccarelli

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780226099064

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226099088.001.0001

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A Text Rhetorically Designed to Unite Competing Fields

A Text Rhetorically Designed to Unite Competing Fields

(p.31) 3 A Text Rhetorically Designed to Unite Competing Fields
Shaping Science with Rhetoric
University of Chicago Press

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

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