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Establishing scientific academies and credibility - Research Paper Example

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Establishing Scientific Academies and Credibility Introduction This essay focuses on how historians treat the establishment of scientific academies in the history of science. Five selections have been chosen which deal on modern historians’ views on seventeenth century scientific institutions…
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Establishing scientific academies and credibility
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Download file to see previous pages Rhetoric conveying authority Dear’s 1985 account of the establishment of the Royal Society turned on the interplay between rhetoric and authority during this period. He called this period of the emergence of scientific societies between 1650 and 1660 as indicative of the consolidation of the Scientific Revolution. At this time, science practitioners with similar views about scientific inquiry formed groups which “stand as testimony to a new attitude toward knowledge of nature” (Dear, 1985). The institutionalisation of scientific inquiry was a sign of the changing attitude of society towards the knowledge of nature. The establishment of the Royal Society in particular was the focal point that marked the end of the change process. The new attitude towards the pursuit of natural knowledge was shaped by the disciplines that were established during the Scientific Revolution. The discussion forwards the thesis that early scientific reporting employed rhetoric to convey authority pursuant to the convention of the period, which is separate and distinct from the truth discovered in the scientific inquiry itself. ...
In his treatise, Dear described a report submitted by Newton in 1666 on a prism experiment, calling it a “fabrication”. It turned out that the series of experiments were genuine and their results were valid and relevant, but the description of the experiments were cast in a form that made the paper more acceptable for publication. The paper also highlights the contrast between the Old Learning and the New Learning (Rangachari, 1994). The very title of the piece was an ironic play on the motto of the Royal Society. Nullius in Verba was Latin for “Take nobody’s word for it,” referring to the stringent standards of scientific study. Totius Verba is the opposite, meaning to “Take everybody’s word for it.” Linguistic style and virtual witnessing. The thesis advanced by Shapin (1984) is that knowledge about reality is shaped by the speech in which such natural reality is couched. The language used is also the key to securing agreement of the scientific community to the knowledge discovered, and of differentiating the new discoveries from former theories that were accorded mediocre status. Shapin observed that there was a way of communicating that accords a greater credibility to the report than would have otherwise been attributed to it had it been reported in a more regular communicating style. Specific observations were made concerning the effective use of language to convey more than the scientific findings arrived at. For instance, accounts of experiments were replete with rich detail, the purpose of which was to build in the mind of the reader a picture of the execution of an experimental procedure at which they were not physically present to personally witness. Shapin terms this ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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