Expert Advocacy: The Public Address of Scientists in a Post-Truth Society
SYFERT, COLLIN JACOB
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In this dissertation, using classical and contemporary rhetorical theory I examine the public advocacy efforts of American scientists as they respond to perceived threats by elected officials on the integrity of science and its role in policymaking. Through analyzing texts including presidential addresses by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, open letters by the Union of Concerned Scientists, Stand Up for Science rallies, and the evolution of the March for Science mission statement, I explicate the diverse ways in which scientists understand the relationship and obligation of scientists and science to society. The epistemic positionality of science and scientists manifests differently in the cases analyzed, and coincides with a wide range of rhetorical strategies built upon those differences, from economic prosperity, American exceptionalism and patriotism, and social and environmental justice framing, to war metaphors, parrhesia, eunoia, and transcendent and constitutive rhetorics. The different conceptualizations of the scientist and citizen subjectivities have shown a trend toward integrstion that demonstrates the emergence of what I call the scientist-citizen. As scientists increasingly reflect on their professional and social obligations in response to contemporary sociopolitical tensions, they find a rightful place not only.
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