Az elhúzódó tudományos viták és a véleménypolarizáció episztemikus megértése felé

The essay focuses on controversies where the debated issues are complex, the exchange involves several participants, and extends over long periods. In some cases controversies lasted for several generations, and polarisation is a recurring trait of the exchanges. The reconstructions and evaluations of the partly (but not only) polemical exchanges also exhibit heterogeneity and polarisation. The protagonist presenting a bundle of claims (complex utterances) to a non-unified audience cannot fully control meaning-attribution of his utterances, and, given what we know about individual cognition, the more heterogeneous audience he succeeds in persuading, the less clear the meaning becomes. While advancement increases potential for action, the growth in consent comes together with a fuzzy content. To problematise the role of polarisation, the significance of this puzzling description with respect to knowledge-production is investigated from both an individual and a social epistemological standpoint to answer the question: How is rhetoric epistemic in cases when at least two views on a given issue are seen as persuasively supported by communities? If engaging in a controversy is a means-to-an-end activity aimed at persuasion, directed at achieving attitude-change in recipients, how does the argumentative goal of an individual translate to episteme in extended scientific controversies? I pick an early example of the Newtonian controversies to investigate the specific type of situation discussed.

Megjelent: Replika 99, 27–41.