Rhetoric as Epistemic

The notion of epistemic rhetoric was championed in Robert L. Scott’s seminal text, “On Viewing Rhetoric as Epistemic,” published in the Central States Speech Journal in 1967. In this essay, Scott invites us to reorient rhetoric by scrutinizing its presumed relation to truth and by attending to the inherently social dimension of experience. He argues against limiting our view of rhetoric to its effectivity; that is, he opposes seeing rhetoric as an instrument for spreading truth.

Scott’s approach has spawned a substantial body of literature, including in communication studies, and some of the major concerns addressed in these commentaries continue to drive inquiry along the trajectory laid out by his original proposal. For instance, in 1990, the Quarterly Journal of Speech hosted a forum devoted to ...

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