Debate as scientific practice in nineteenth-century Paris: The controversy over the microscope

Perspectives on Science 12 (4):424-453 (2004)
Abstract
: This article explores debate as a key scientific practice among the medical elite in nineteenth-century Paris, with an emphasis on academic debate and debate in the scientific/medical press. I use the debate over the microscope, which took place in the Paris Academy of Medicine in 1854-55 and concurrently in the medical press, to illustrate the role of debate as scientific practice. Focusing on the debate in the press, I show how medical journalists used the debate in the Academy to raise larger questions about the nature of science and medicine and to legitimate French microscopy. I suggest that debate was an important scientific practice in nineteenth-century Paris, not only owing to a longstanding belief that truth emerges through disputation but also depending on and exemplifying a shared masculine culture of honor
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