The concept of scientific fact: Perelman and beyond

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This paper applies the argumentative perspective to the concept of scientificfact by combining the rhetorical and the sociological perspectives. The scientific fact is presented as an entity having both an epistemic and a social meaning, and the scientific paper is presented as a discourse that has both an epistemic value and role related to knowledge and to the description of the 'world,' and a social value, fulfilling social roles within its relevant discourse community. The discussion leads to some insights into the connection between scientific language and facts. Scientific language reflects the degreeoffacticity of the utterance at every stage: various linguistic and discursive elements reflect the current factual status of the utterance. This conception of fact is dynamic and open to discussion, and it is presented from the author's point of view. On the other hand, language, or the choice of language usage, creates facticity in the sense of social acceptance: by using language, the researcher reports on his belief that what he is describing is indeed a fact. The essence of the scientific paper as an argumentative text is that its point of departure is the faith of the speaker in the facticity of the new information, and its rhetorical aim is to convince the audience, based on its disciplinaryrationality, to accept that same faith and thereby usher the new claim into the shared disciplinary body of knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-386
Number of pages12
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • Facticity
  • New rhetoric
  • Scientific fact
  • Scientific language
  • Scientific paper
  • Universal audience


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