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The following commentary follows on and flows out of an initial response to reading “Multiple Voices on Authorship and Authority in Biomedical Publications” by DeTora and colleagues (2020), which appeared in volume 3 issue 4 of Rhetoric of Health and Medicine. This response, by rhetorician of science, health, and medicine Celeste Condit, begins by situating questions about authorship and authority in biomedicine against a classical rhetorical source, Plato’s Gorgias. In so doing, Condit identifies a messy truth—that rhetoric potentially can pose dangers when applied to health and medicine. The authors then construct a Platonic dialogue that situates authorship, ethos, and authority in the context of biomedicine. Ultimately, the two authors illustrate the messiness that results when attempting to mount a discussion of these terms across intellectual registers.
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