Complete Story

SCOTT, J. Blake

Spring 2002, pages 57-84

The Public Policy Debate Over Newborn HIV Testing: A Case Study of the Knowledge Enthymeme

Abstract: This essay analyzes the web of persuasion named the "knowledge enthymeme" in the public policy debate over mandatory newborn HIV testing in the United States and especially New York. Bringing together classical rhetorical theory and Foucault's theory of the knowledge-power loop, the essay explains how the conceptual/argumentative frame of the knowledge enthymeme helped shape the knowledge-power relations of mandatory newborn testing in dangerous ways. Ultimately, the knowledge enthymeme blocked more responsive approaches to testing by exaggerating the beneficial effects of testing and its knowledge, ignoring the contingencies of this knowledge, and bypassing the "situated knowledges" of the women it targets.

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