The bias paradox in feminist standpoint epistemology

Episteme 3 (1-2):125-136 (2006)
Sandra Harding's feminist standpoint epistemology makes two claims. The thesis of epistemic privilege claims that unprivileged social positions are likely to generate perspectives that are “less partial and less distorted” than perspectives generated by other social positions. The situated knowledge thesis claims that all scientific knowledge is socially situated. The bias paradox is the tension between these two claims. Whereas the thesis of epistemic privilege relies on the assumption that a standard of impartiality enables one to judge some perspectives as better than others, the situated knowledge thesis seems to undermine this assumption by suggesting that all knowledge is partial. I argue that a contextualist theory of epistemic justification provides a solution to the bias paradox. Moreover, contextualism enables me to give empirical content to the thesis of epistemic privilege, thereby making it into a testable hypothesis
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DOI 10.3366/epi.2006.3.1-2.125
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