Thursday, December 6, 2007

Ideal Speech Situation

Scientific Publishing as Rhetoric
For some, the fundamental problems of peer review are inherent in the peer review process itself as it is currently implemented. As noted by Sosteric,

"the traditional mode of peer review obscures the problems of reference and the rhetorical dimension of science. The rhetorical process ... [that] is at the heart of science and peer review conveniently disappears with the final publication of the manuscript. In its place is an ideal typical representation (the scientific paper) of the realist assumptions about empirical reference. All the academic world sees is a polished manuscript where the personal involvement of the researcher and reviewers has been systematically eliminated."

As an alternative to conventional peer review, Sosteric, Gross, and others, promote the framework of the 'ideal speech situation', a "theoretical construct that describes the ideal type of interpersonal interaction that should exist in a rhetorical situation” proposed and developed by J├╝rgen Habermas, the noted German philosopher and sociologist.

Drawing upon Habermas, Gross describes the ideal speech situation in the following terms.

1) the ideal speech situation permits each interlocutor an equal opportunity to initiate speech.
2) there is mutual understanding between interlocutors.
3) there is space for clarification.
4) all interlocutors are equally free to use of any speech act.
5) there is equal power over the exchange.

As applied in the context of peer review, Gross notes that ideally "scientific peer review would permit unimpeded authorial initiative, endless rounds of give and take, [and] unchecked openness among authors, editors, and referees.


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