Desired Becomings

In contrast to Christopher Kelty’s case for the “careful cultural analysis of the domesticated forms that open source is taking” – which we agree to be a very useful endeavor – we would like to stick with the original call for papers for this special issue, that explicitly addresses the critical power of free software and a necessary shift to epistemologies. In our contribution we are responding to the aims of this special issue and to some of the contributions from the perspective of feminist epistemology. There are several reasons for this decision. First of all, feminist scholars have been amongst the rst and most explicit to stress the linkages between knowledge and power. Apart from this generic focus, speci c feminist approaches, namely the approaches proposed by Helen Longino, Karen Barad and Lucy Suchman, o er invaluable insights for understanding the critical power of free software as a practice, which enables the materialization of principles into objects, as Kelty rightly emphasizes. Furthermore, feminist approaches suggest looking at epistemological politics and the situatedness of knowledge practices including e ects of perspectivism and marginalization. We adopt a performative understanding of epistemic practices, an understanding that take the interrelations between epistemology, ontology and ethics seriously. Thus, we start our inquiry from Kelty’s observation that free software “promises a sequence of [...] values: experimentalism and creativity, provisionality and modi ability, recti cation and refraction, dissent and critique, participation and obligation“ and that it „allows values and principles to be turned into material objects“. These and other values have already been inscribed in the launch of the GNU project in the beginning 1980s, the creation of the GPL, and they are continuously realized in the Free Software movement. Hence the interesting question is how they are realized and how are they shaped vice-versa by practices.
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The Fate of Knowledge.Helen E. Longino - 2001 - Princeton University Press.

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