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Title:The role of language in the discovery and acceptance of vitamins
Author(s):Maltz, Alesia
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Burkhardt, Richard W.
Department / Program:Language, Modern
Health Sciences, Nutrition
History of Science
Discipline:Language, Modern
Health Sciences, Nutrition
History of Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Language, Modern
Health Sciences, Nutrition
History of Science
Abstract:I contrast the language of biochemists and physicians, and describe how language obstructed acceptance of the deficiency theory and vitamin hypothesis in Great Britain at the beginning of this century.
The dissertation is divided into three sections. The first examines tension between proof and belief. I discuss: (a) why biochemists came to believe in the existence of vitamins, even though they had no chemical proof from the test tube; (b) why physicians would not discount the germ theory of beri-beri; and (c) the loss of face of biochemists who found themselves unable either to modify their methods or to find alternative ways to prove the existence of vitamins.
The second analyzes the controversy over rickets to demonstrate that the resolution of the controversy entailed a complete redefinition of the term. I describe: (a) one definition popular before the controversy; (b) the development of the controversy between the Cambridge and Glasgow Schools emphasizing how the social milieu inhibited the process of redefinition; and (c) changing conceptions of pathogenesis, treatment, diagnosis, etc.
The third section explicitly discusses the function of language, its significance for the players, the disciplines and the controversy. Specifically, I describe: (a) Mellanby's issues about professional identity; (b) the ways in which choice of audience and professional influence affected the priority dispute between Funk and Hopkins over the "discovery" of vitamins; (c) the significance of the protracted discussion about the naming of vitamins; and (d) the dispute over negative causality and functional explanations.
These examples highlight the major issues of the dissertation, including the nature of discovery, of theory competition, and the disharmony inherent in disciplinary-based notions of what constituted an explanation.
Issue Date:1990
Rights Information:Copyright 1990 Maltz, Alesia
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9021725
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9021725

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