Should the engineers apply ‘rhetoric strategy’ to popularized technology? Abstract
Nowadays, it is common for engineers to overpromise or exaggerate the technology’s advantages while neglecting its potential disadvantages in order to get more attention and investment, which is actually a form of ‘rhetoric strategy’. In this paper, the notion of ‘rhetoric’ in term of technical field will be briefly defined, including the definition, the applying stages and connection with ethic issues. To develop the arguments, a case study of the development of solar energy technology will be drawn upon. Afterwards, the ethical cycle will be used to analyze its potential ethical problem. Last but not least, the conclusion will be given.
1. Definition of Rhetoric
The best known definition of ‘rhetoric’ comes from Aristotle, who considers it a counterpart of both logic and politics, and calls it "the faculty of observing in any given cases the available means of persuasion” . Generally, rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations . Two decades ago in UK, the notion of strategic science and technology emerged . It is a different kind of research located in different way from traditional science and technology. Expectations and promises are investigated in strategic science instead of actually achieved understanding or immediate application. In this way, the rise of strategic science has created a ‘space’ in which promises can be floated, which is generally for whoever is willing to listen and specifically directed toward sponsors of R&D who have an interest in the promising areas of science. Such space is call ‘rhetorical space’, which voices promises about new technology, gets a hearing and mobilizes audiences. The rhetoric could increase the technology’s popularity and help R&D to attract not only capital investment, but also policy support, because sometimes government agencies are even eager to fill their portfolios with attractive-sounding R&D programs. 2.Stages of applying rhetoric
To develop a new technology with rhetoric strategy, a spokesman (lobbyist), argumentation (statements in texts), and audience (creating presentations /brochures) are needed. 1． Firstly, to come clear the technology, definition of the umbrella term is introduced by engineers to the public. Now a technology in the rhetorical space can be defined in a single definition, it is possible to make an index of the technology development over time. 2． Secondly, to attract public attention, relevant articles with the topics (argumentation) of this technology is published to make the technology popular. Behind these articles are authors who try to convince readership. they are spokesman or promise champions, who speak for a technology rather than for an organization or own interest. 3． Thirdly, audience is another important pillar needed in the rhetorical space. To raise an audience, presentations are created. 4． Last but not least, to Interest the industry, public lecture is conducted by government or association of engineers. Because of such promotion, more industries will show interest in this technology. 3. Nexus connects Rhetoric to Ethics Issues
As rhetoric is treated as the art in discourse, rhetoric is treated as the strategic science, in terms of technology. It is increasingly prevalent for engineers to apply rhetoric to introduce, describe and popularize the technology. At first glance, engineers just serve their technological enthusiasm, the ideal of wanting to develop new technological possibilities and taking up technological challenges, rather than their personal or others’ interests. It is reasonable and nature to exaggerate the bright side or use the euphuism to describe their technologies for engineers. Since technologies consist of engineers’ beliefs, values and...
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