Justifying Feminist Social Science

Hypatia 2 (3):107 - 127 (1987)
Abstract
In this paper I set out the problem of feminist social science as the need to explain and justify its method of theory choice in relation to both its own theories and those of androcentric social science. In doing this, it needs to avoid both a positivism which denies the impact of values on scientific theory-choice and a radical relativism which undercuts the emancipatory potential of feminist research. From the relevant literature I offer two possible solutions: the Holistic and the Constructivist models of theory-choice. I then rate these models according to what extent they solve the problem of feminist social science. I argue that the principal distinction between these models is in their contrasting conceptions of truth. Solving the problem of feminist social science will require understanding that what is at stake in the debate is our conception of truth. This understanding will serve to clarify, though not resolve, the various approaches to and disagreements over methodologies and explanations in feminist social science.
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