Individuals-in-communities: The search for a feminist model of epistemic subjects

Hypatia 19 (3):85-120 (2004)
Abstract
: Feminist epistemologists have found the atomistic view of knowers provided by classical epistemology woefully inadequate. An obvious alternative for feminists is Lynn Hankinson Nelson's suggestion that it is communities that know. However, I argue that Nelson's view is problematic for feminists, and I offer instead a conception of knowers as "individuals-in-communities." This conception is preferable, given the premises and goals of feminist epistemologists, because it emphasizes the relations between knowers and their communities and the relevance of these relations for epistemic assessments. Furthermore, it provides a sense of epistemic agents as active reflective inquirers, capable of transforming and improving knowledge-seeking practices
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