Edited by Pascal Hohaus
[Discourse Approaches to Politics, Society and Culture 96] 2022
► pp. 41–64
Chapter 3Letters to power
Authority appeals in the communication of scientific consensus
This study explores the rhetorical strategies used by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit science advocacy organization, as they appeal to political actors and the public on behalf of the integrity of science. Comparative analysis focuses on two open letters written by the UCS during the George W. Bush and Donald Trump administrations, in differing contexts of environmental and credibility crises. As these letters reflect the collective voice of many scientists and often relay collective understandings of climate science and epistemological integrity, they are a form of consensus appeal and elevated positionality. The authors and signatories of these letters cultivate scientific ethos and phronesis to reaffirm the importance of measured action and call upon political actors to restore the influence of science in policymaking. Evidence is provided for how this rhetorical genre and set of appeals is interpreted by nonscientists largely along party lines.
- Letters to power
- Scientist Statement on Restoring Scientific Integrity to Federal Policy Making, 2004
- Science and the Public Interest, 2016
- Power in letters?