This article explores debate as a key scientific practice among the medical elite in nineteenth-century Paris, with an emphasis on academic debate and debate in the scientific/medical press. I use the debate over the microscope, which took place in the Paris Academy of Medicine in 1854–55 and concurrently in the medical press, to illustrate the role of debate as scientific practice. Focusing on the debate in the press, I show how medical journalists used the debate in the Academy to raise larger questions about the nature of science and medicine and to legitimate French microscopy. I suggest that debate was an important scientific practice in nineteenth-century Paris, not only owing to a longstanding belief that truth emerges through disputation but also depending on and exemplifying a shared masculine culture of honor.

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