In Martin Kusch (ed.), Routledge Handbook to Relativism (forthcoming)

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Natalie Alana Ashton
University of Stirling
Abstract
In this paper I explore the relationship between social epistemology and relativism in the context of feminist epistemology. I do this by focusing on one particular branch of feminist epistemology - a branch known as standpoint theory - and investigating the connection between this view and epistemic relativism. I begin by defining both epistemic relativism and standpoint theory, and by briefly recounting the standard way that the connection between these two views is understood. The literature at the moment focuses on an aspect of standpoint theory called the epistemic advantage thesis, and on an aspect of relativism which has been called equality. I then show that the connection between relativism and standpoint theory actually turns on a different aspect of standpoint theory, known as the standpoint thesis, and on an aspect of relativism which has been called non-neutrality. I argue that shifting our attention to these other aspects reveals that standpoint theory is clearly and unavoidably relativist, but that this isn’t a problem - standpoint theory can capture everything that it set out to, even on a relativist understanding of the view.
Keywords feminist epistemology  social epistemology  epistemic relativism  feminist standpoint theory  standpoint epistemology
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