WHAT IS GENERAL FORENSICS?
El Sueño de la Razón
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language
fo·ren·sics (f-rnsks, -zks) n. (used with a sing. verb)
1. The art or study of formal debate; argumentation.
2. The use of science and technology to investigate and establish facts in criminal or civil courts of law.
(The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009.)
The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (m-w.com at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/forensic)
1: an argumentative exercise
2: plural but sing or plural in constr : the art or study of argumentative discourse
3: plural but sing or plural in constr : the application of scientific knowledge to legal problems; especially : scientific analysis of physical evidence (as from a crime scene) (First Known Use of FORENSIC 1814)
The American Forensic Association used to provide (some ten years ago) a characterization useful to those who would bring important concerns into broader forums, rather than concede it to technical cadres to dispose of such issues according to their own special interests. Here is that characterization:
"Forensics" is a word rooted in the Western world's classical experience. The Greeks organized contests for speakers that developed and recognized the abilities their society felt central to democracy. These exercises acquired the title "forensics," derived from the Latin term for ensis and closely related to forum. Because the training in this skill of public advocacy, including the development of evidence, found one of its important venues in the law courts, the term "forensic" has also become associated with the art and science of legal evidence and argument.
(NOTE WELL: This characterization has lately been replaced by the more popularized, narrower, "scientific" version of "forensics". -- EGR)
The distinction between general forensics as
contrasted with scientific forensics is not an idle one. Many of the
natural and social sciences recognize a forensic sub-area within their
discipline. (For abundant example, see the membership
information for the American Association of Forensic Sciences)
However, demarcating what aspects of, say chemistry, are forensic or not
-- which those proposing instructional programs must do -- is
clearly an exercise in general forensics, not just forensic chemistry. What
makes a technical procedure relevant in deciding questions of
applicability and scope -- for whatever purpose -- is often determined
by a variety of discourses addressed to a variety of non-technical
publics and their varied concerns. -- EGR
General Analytic Thinking & Metacognition Catalog
Articles Employing General Forensics