Breaking the Link between Methodology and Rationality. A Plea for Rhetoric in Scientific Inquiry

  • Marcello Pera
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 195)


“What ultimately decides the fate of a theory is the result of a test”.1 I do not know of any past or present-day scientists who would not readily agree with this favourite maxim of Popper’s. It has much to be said for it, indeed: as a description of what is going on in science, it seems to be adequate; as advice, it is easy to apprehend and, at first sight, easy to apply; as a slogan for publicity, it is appealing. It voices the old, venerated tradition that science is an objective, impersonal game whose only players are ideas and facts, without any intrusion of subjective factors unless they can be isolated or rendered harmless. Science, Popper also says, is “knowledge without a knowing subject”;2 likewise, Galileo remarked that science only relies on “sensible experience and necessary demonstrations”, so that “in the natural science the art of oratory is ineffective”.3


Inductive Logic Legal Code Methodological Rule Rhetorical Argument Scientific Code 
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  1. 1.
    K. Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, Hutchinson, London 1959, p.109.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    G. Galilei, Dialogue Concerning the two Chief World Systems -Ptolemaic and Copernican ,trans. S. Drake, Berkeley and Los Angeles 1967, p. 53 (marginal annotation).Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    See I. Lakatos, “Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes”, in Philosophical Papers ,2 vols, edited by J. Worrall and G. Currie, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1978, vol. 1, p. 31 and p. 91; “History of Science and its Rational Reconstructions”, in Op. cit. ,p. 103Google Scholar
  4. 11.
    T. Kuhn, “Reflections of My Critics”, in I. Lakatos, A. Musgrave (eds.), Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge ,Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1970, p. 262.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcello Pera
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of PisaItaly

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