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Alison Wylie
University of British Columbia
  1. Why Standpoint Matters.Alison Wylie - 2003 - In Robert Figueroa & Sandra G. Harding (eds.), Science and Other Cultures: Issues in Philosophies of Science and Technology. Routledge. pp. 26--48.
    Feminist standpoint theory has been marginal to mainstream philosophical analyses of science–indeed, it has been marginal to science studies generally–and it has had an uneasy reception among feminist theorists. Critics of standpoint theory have attributed to it untenable foundationalist assumptions about the social identities that can underpin an epistemically salient standpoint, and implausible claims about the epistemic privilege that should be accorded to those who occupy subdominant social locations. I disentangle what I take to be the promising core of feminist (...)
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  2. Value-Free Science: Ideals and Illusions?Harold Kincaid, John Dupre & Alison Wylie (eds.) - 2007 - Oxford University Press.
    It has long been thought that science is our best hope for realizing objective knowledge, but that, to deliver on this promise, it must be value free. Things are not so simple, however, as recent work in science studies makes clear. The contributors to this volume investigate where and how values are involved in science, and examine the implications of this involvement for ideals of objectivity.
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  3. Evidential Reasoning in Archaeology.Robert Chapman & Alison Wylie - 2016 - London: Bloomsbury Academic Publishing.
    Material traces of the past are notoriously inscrutable; they rarely speak with one voice, and what they say is never unmediated. They stand as evidence only given a rich scaffolding of interpretation which is, itself, always open to challenge and revision. And yet archaeological evidence has dramatically expanded what we know of the cultural past, sometimes demonstrating a striking capacity to disrupt settled assumptions. The questions we address in Evidential Reasoning are: How are these successes realized? What gives us confidence (...)
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  4. A Plurality of Pluralisms: Collaborative Practice in Archaeology.Alison Wylie - 2015 - In Jonathan Y. Tsou, Alan Richardson & Flavia Padovani (eds.), Objectivity in Science. Springer Verlag. pp. 189-210.
    Innovative modes of collaboration between archaeologists and Indigenous communities are taking shape in a great many contexts, in the process transforming conventional research practice. While critics object that these partnerships cannot but compromise the objectivity of archaeological science, many of the archaeologists involved argue that their research is substantially enriched by them. I counter objections raised by internal critics and crystalized in philosophical terms by Boghossian, disentangling several different kinds of pluralism evident in these projects and offering an analysis of (...)
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  5. Thinking From Things: Essays in the Philosophy of Archaeology.Alison Wylie - 2002 - University of California Press.
    In this long-awaited compendium of new and newly revised essays, Alison Wylie explores how archaeologists know what they know. -/- Preprints available for download. Please see entry for specific article of interest.
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  6. Feminist Philosophy of Science: Standpoint Matters.Alison Wylie - 2012 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophy Association 86 (2):47-76.
    Standpoint theory is an explicitly political as well as social epistemology. Its central insight is that epistemic advantage may accrue to those who are oppressed by structures of domination and discounted as knowers. Feminist standpoint theorists hold that gender is one dimension of social differentiation that can make such a difference. In response to two longstanding objections I argue that epistemically consequential standpoints need not be conceptualized in essentialist terms, and that they do not confer automatic or comprehensive epistemic privilege (...)
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  7. How Archaeological Evidence Bites Back: Strategies for Putting Old Data to Work in New Ways.Alison Wylie - 2017 - Science, Technology, and Human Values 42 (2):203-225.
    Archaeological data are shadowy in a number of senses. Not only are they notoriously fragmentary but the conceptual and technical scaffolding on which archaeologists rely to constitute these data as evidence can be as constraining as it is enabling. A recurrent theme in internal archaeological debate is that reliance on sedimented layers of interpretative scaffolding carries the risk that “preunderstandings” configure what archaeologists recognize and record as primary data, and how they interpret it as evidence. The selective and destructive nature (...)
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  8.  45
    Radiocarbon Dating in Archaeology: Triangulation and Traceability.Alison Wylie - 2020 - In Sabina Leonelli & Niccolò Tempini (eds.), Data Journeys in the Sciences. Springer. pp. 285-301.
    When radiocarbon dating techniques were applied to archaeological material in the 1950s they were hailed as a revolution. At last archaeologists could construct absolute chronologies anchored in temporal data backed by immutable laws of physics. This would make it possible to mobilize archaeological data across regions and time-periods on a global scale, rendering obsolete the local and relative chronologies on which archaeologists had long relied. As profound as the impact of 14C dating has been, it has had a long and (...)
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  9. Rethinking Unity as a "Working Hypothesis" for Philosophy: How Archaeologists Exploit the Disunities of Science.Alison Wylie - 1999 - Perspectives on Science 7 (3):293-317.
    As a working hypothesis for philosophy of science, the unity of science thesis has been decisively challenged in all its standard formulations; it cannot be assumed that the sciences presuppose an orderly world, that they are united by the goal of systematically describing and explaining this order, or that they rely on distinctively scientific methodologies which, properly applied, produce domain-specific results that converge on a single coherent and comprehensive system of knowledge. I first delineate the scope of arguments against global (...)
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  10.  97
    Critical Distance : Stabilising Evidential Claims in Archaeology.Alison Wylie - 2011 - In Philip Dawid, William Twining & Mimi Vasilaki (eds.), Evidence, Inference and Enquiry. Oup/British Academy.
    The vagaries of evidential reasoning in archaeology are notorious: the material traces that comprise the archaeological record are fragmentary and profoundly enigmatic, and the inferential gap that archaeologists must cross to constitute them as evidence of the cultural past is a peren­nial source of epistemic anxiety. And yet we know a great deal about the cultural past, including vast reaches of the past for which this material record is our only source of evidence. The contents of this record stand as (...)
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  11. Women in Philosophy: The Costs of Exclusion—Editor's Introduction.Alison Wylie - 2011 - Hypatia 26 (2):374-382.
    Philosophy has the dubious distinction of attracting and retaining proportionally fewer women than any other field in the humanities, indeed, fewer than in all but the most resolutely male-dominated of the sciences. This short article introduces a thematic cluster that brings together five short essays that probe the reasons for and the effects of these patterns of exclusion, not just of women but of diverse peoples of all kinds in Philosophy. It summarizes some of the demographic measures of exclusion that (...)
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  12.  78
    Community-Based Collaborative Archaeology.Alison Wylie - 2014 - In Nancy Cartwright & Eleonora Montuschi (eds.), Philosophy of Social Science: A New Introduction. pp. 68-82.
    I focus here on archaeologists who work with Indigenous descendant communities in North America and address two key questions raised by their practice about the advantages of situated inquiry. First, what exactly are the benefits of collaborative practice—what does it contribute, in this case to archaeology? And, second, what is the philosophical rationale for collaborative practice? Why is it that, counter-intuitively for many, collaborative practice has the capacity to improve archaeology in its own terms and to provoke critical scrutiny of (...)
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  13.  94
    What Knowers Know Well: Women, Work, and the Academy.Alison Wylie - 2011 - In Heidi E. Grasswick (ed.), Feminist Epistemology and Philosophy of Science. pp. 157-179.
    Research on the status and experience of women in academia in the last 30 years has challenged conventional explanations of persistent gender inequality, bringing into sharp focus the cumulative impact of small scale, often unintentional differences in recognition and response: the patterns of 'post-civil rights era' dis­crimination made famous by the 1999 report on the status of women in the MIT School of Science. I argue that feminist standpoint theory is a useful resource for understanding how this sea change in (...)
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  14.  39
    Coming to Terms with the Value(s) of Science: Insights From Feminist Science Scholarship.Alison Wylie & Lynn Hankinson Nelson - 2007 - In Harold Kincaid, John Dupre & Alison Wylie (eds.), Value-Free Science? Ideals and Illusions. Oxford University Press, Usa. pp. 58-86.
  15. Standpoint Theory, in Science.Alison Wylie & Sergio Sismondo - 2015 - In James D. Wright (ed.), International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences (Second Edition). Elsevier. pp. 324-330.
    Standpoint theory is based on the insight that those who are marginalized or oppressed have distinctive epistemic resources with which to understand social structures. Inasmuch as these structures shape our understanding of the natural and lifeworlds, standpoint theorists extend this principle to a range of biological and physical as well as social sciences. Standpoint theory has been articulated as a social epistemology and as an aligned methodological stance. It provides the rationale for ‘starting research from the margins’ and for expanding (...)
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  16.  38
    The Reaction Against Analogy.Alison Wylie - 1985 - Advances in Archaeological Method and Theory 8:63-111.
  17. Arguments for Scientific Realism: The Ascending Spiral.Alison Wylie - 1986 - American Philosophical Quarterly 23 (3):287 - 297.
    Although I have little sympathy for Nagel's instrumentalism, his "dictum" on the debates over scientific realism (as Boyd refers to it) is disconcertingly accurate; it does seem as if "the already long controversy...can be prolonged indefinitely." The reason for this, however, is not that realists and instrumentalists are divided by merely terminological differences in their "preferred mode[s] of speech", indeed, this analysis appeals only if you are already convinced that realism of any robust sort is mistaken. The debates persist, instead, (...)
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  18. Introduction: Doing Archaeology as a Feminist.Alison Wylie - 2007 - Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 14 (3).
    Gender research archaeology has made significant contributions, but its dissociation from the resources of feminist scholarship and feminist activism is a significantly limiting factor in its development. The essays that make up this special issue illustrate what is to be gained by making systematic use of these resources. Their distinctively feminist contributions are characterized in terms of the recommendations for “doing science as a feminist” that have taken shape in the context of the long running “feminist method debate” in the (...)
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  19. Doing Social Science as a Feminist: The Engendering of Archaeology.Alison Wylie - 2001 - In Angela N. H. Creager, Elizabeth Lunbeck & Londa Schiebinger (eds.), Feminism in Twentieth Century Science, Technology, and Medicine. University of Chicago Press. pp. 23-45.
     
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  20. Bearing Witness: What Can Archaeology Contribute in an Indian Residential School Context?Alison Wylie, Eric Simons & Andrew Martindale - 2021 - In Chelsea H. Meloche, Katherine L. Nichols & Laure Spake (eds.), Working with and for Ancestors: Collaboration in the Care and Study of Ancestral Remains. Routledge. pp. 21-31.
    We explore our role as researchers and witnesses in the context of an emerging partnership with the Penelakut Tribe, the aim of which is to locate the unmarked graves of children who died while attending the notorious Kuper Island Indian Residential School on their territory (southwest British Columbia). This relationship is in the process of taking shape, so we focus on understanding conditions for developing trust, and the interactional expertise necessary to work well together, with a good heart. We suggest (...)
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  21. Material Evidence.Alison Wylie & Robert Chapman (eds.) - 2015 - New York / London: Routledge.
    How do archaeologists make effective use of physical traces and material culture as repositories of evidence? Material Evidence is a collection of 19 essays that take a resolutely case-based approach to this question, exploring key instances of exemplary practice, instructive failures, and innovative developments in the use of archaeological data as evidence. The goal is to bring to the surface the wisdom of practice, teasing out norms of archaeological reasoning from evidence. -/- Archaeologists make compelling use of an enormously diverse (...)
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  22. Introduction: When Difference Makes a Difference.Alison Wylie - 2006 - Episteme 3 (1-2):1-7.
    Taking seriously the social dimensions of knowledge puts pressure on the assumption that epistemic agents can usefully be thought of as autonomous, interchangeable individuals, capable, insofar as they are rational and objective, of transcending the specificities of personal history, experience, and context. If this idealization is abandoned as the point of departure for epistemic inquiry, then differences among situated knowers come sharply into focus. These include differences in cognitive capacity, experience, and expertise; in access to information and the heuristics that (...)
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  23.  47
    The Promise and Perils of an Ethic of Stewardship.Alison Wylie - 2005 - In Lynn Meskell & Peter Pels (eds.), Embedding Ethics. Berg. pp. 47--68.
  24. Feminist Perspectives on Science.Alison Wylie, Elizabeth Potter & Wenda K. Bauchspies - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    **No longer the current version available on SEP; see revised version by Sharon Crasnow** -/- Feminists have a number of distinct interests in, and perspectives on, science. The tools of science have been a crucial resource for understanding the nature, impact, and prospects for changing gender-based forms of oppression; in this spirit, feminists actively draw on, and contribute to, the research programs of a wide range of sciences. At the same time, feminists have identified the sciences as a source as (...)
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  25. Ethical Dilemmas in Archaeological Practice: Looting, Repatriation, Stewardship, and the (Trans) Formation of Disciplinary Identity.Alison Wylie - 1996 - Perspectives on Science 4:154-194.
  26. Discourse, Practice, Context: From HPS to Interdisciplinary Science Studies.Alison Wylie - 1994 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1994:393 - 395.
    One of the most widely debated and influential implications of the "demise" of positivism was the realization, now a commonplace, that philosophy of science must be firmly grounded in an understanding of the history of science, and/or of contemporary scientific practice. While the nature of this alliance is still a matter of uneasy negotiation, the principle that philosophical analysis must engage "real" science has transformed philosophical practice in innumerable ways. This short paper is the introduction to a symposium presented at (...)
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  27. Reasoning About Ourselves: Feminist Methodology in the Social Sciences.Alison Wylie - 1992 - In Elizabeth Harvey & Kathleen Okruhlik (eds.), Women and Reason. University of Michigan Press. pp. 225-244.
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    Socially Naturalized Norms of Epistemic Rationality: Aggregation and Deliberation.Alison Wylie - 2006 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 44 (S1):43-48.
    In response to those who see rational deliberation as a source of epistemic norms and a model for well-functioning scientific inquiry, Solomon cites evidence that aggregative techniques often yield better results; deliberative processes are vulnerable to biasing mechanisms that impoverish the epistemic resources on which group judgments are based. I argue that aggregative techniques are similarly vulnerable and illustrate this in terms of the impact of gender schemas on both individual and collective judgment. A consistently externalist and socially naturalized approach (...)
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  29.  18
    The Engendering of Archaeology Refiguring Feminist Science Studies.Alison Wylie - 1997 - Osiris 12:80-99.
  30.  42
    Archaeological Finds: Legacies of Appropriation, Modes of Response.George P. Nicholas & Alison Wylie - 2009 - In James O. Young & Conrad Brunk (eds.), The Ethics of Cultural Appropriation. Wiley. pp. 11--51.
  31.  56
    Archaeological Facts in Transit: The ‘Eminent Mounds’ of Central North America.Alison Wylie - 2010 - In P. Howlett & M. Morgan (eds.), How Well do ‘Facts’ Travel?: The Dissemination of Reliable Knowledge. Cambridge University Press. pp. 301-322.
    Archaeological facts have a perplexing character; they are often seen as less likely to “lie,” capable of bearing tangible, material witness to actual conditions of life, actions and events, but at the same time they are notoriously fragmentary and enigmatic, and disturbingly vulnerable to dispersal and attrition. As Trouillot (1995) argues for historical inquiry, the identification, selection, interpretation and narration of archaeological facts is a radically constructive process. Rather than conclude on this basis that archaeological facts and fictions are indistinguishable, (...)
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  32.  38
    Feminism in Philosophy of Science: Making Sense of Contingency and Constraint.Alison Wylie - 2000 - In Miranda Fricker & Jennifer Hornsby (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Feminism in Philosophy. Cambridge University Press. pp. 166--184.
  33.  15
    The Interplay of Evidential Constraints and Political Interests: Recent Archaeological Research on Gender.Alison Wylie - 1992 - American Antiquity 57 (1):15.
    In the last few years, conference programs and publications have begun to appear that reflect a growing interest, among North American archaeologists, in research initiatives that focus on women and gender as subjects of investigation. One of the central questions raised by these developments has to do with their "objectivity" and that of archaeology as a whole. To the extent that they are inspired by or aligned with explicitly political (feminist) commitments, the question arises of whether they do not themselves (...)
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  34.  11
    Questions of Evidence, Legitimacy, and the (Dis)Unity of Science.Alison Wylie - 2000 - American Antiquity 65 (2):227.
    The recent Science Wars have brought into sharp focus, in a public forum, contentious questions about the authority of science and what counts as properly scientific practice that have long structured archaeological debate. As in the larger debate, localized disputes in archaeology often presuppose a conception of science as a unified enterprise defined by common goals, standards, and research programs; specific forms of inquiry are advocated (or condemned) by claiming afiliation with sciences so conceived. This pattern of argument obscures much (...)
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  35. The Constitution of Archaeological Evidence: Gender Politics and Science.Alison Wylie - 1996 - In Peter Galison & David J. Stump (eds.), The Disunity of Science: Boundaries, Contexts, and Power. Stanford University Press. pp. 311-343.
  36. Philosophical Feminism: A Bibliographic Guide to Critiques of Science.Alison Wylie - 1990 - Resources for Feminist Research 19 (2):2-36.
  37. ’Do Not Do Unto Others…’: Cultural Misrecognition and the Harms of Appropriation in an Open Source World.George P. Nicholas & Alison Wylie - 2012 - In Geoffrey Scarre & Robin Coningham (eds.), Appropriating the Past: Philosophical Perspectives on the Practice of Archaeology. Cambridge University Press. pp. 195-221.
    In this chapter we explore two important questions that we believe should be central to any discussion of the ethics and politics of cultural heritage: What are the harms associated with appropriation and commodification, specifically where the heritage of Indigenous peoples is concerned? And how can these harms best be avoided? Archaeological concerns animate this discussion; we are ultimately concerned with fostering postcolonial archaeological practices. But we situate these questions in a broader context, addressing them as they arise in connection (...)
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  38.  43
    ‘Simple’ Analogy and the Role of Relevance Assumptions: Implications of Archaeological Practice.Alison Wylie - 1988 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 2 (2):134 – 150.
    There is deep ambivalence about analogy, both as an object of philosophical fascination and in contexts of practice, like archaeology, where it plays a seemingly central role. In archaeology there has been continuous vacillation between outright rejection of analogical inference as overtly speculative, even systematically misleading, and, when this proves un-tenable, various stock strategies for putting it 'on a firmer foundation'. Frequently these last are accomplished by assimilating analogy to more tractible (better warranted, more readily controllable) forms of inference, salvaging (...)
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  39.  24
    Legacy Data, Radiocarbon Dating, and Robustness Reasoning.Alison Wylie - manuscript
    *PSA 2016, symposium on “Data in Time: Epistemology of Historical Data” organized by Sabina Leonelli, 5 November 2016* *See published version: "Radiocarbon Dating in Archaeology: Triangulation and Traceability" in Data Journeys in the Sciences (2020) - link below* Archaeologists put a premium on pressing “legacy data” into service, given the notoriously selective and destructive nature of their practices of data capture. Legacy data consist of material and records that been assembled over decades, sometimes centuries, often by means and for purposes (...)
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  40. Epistemic Justice, Ignorance, and Procedural Objectivity—Editor's Introduction.Alison Wylie - 2011 - Hypatia 26 (2):233-235.
    The groundwork has long been laid, by feminist and critical race theorists, for recognizing that a robust social epistemology must be centrally concerned with questions of epistemic injustice; it must provide an account of how inequitable social relations inflect what counts as knowledge and who is recognized as a credible knower. The cluster of papers we present here came together serendipitously and represent a striking convergence of interest in exactly these issues. In their different ways, each contributor is concerned both (...)
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  41. The Feminist Question in Science: What Does It Mean to 'Do Social Science as a Feminist"?Alison Wylie - 2007 - In Sharlene Hesse-Biber (ed.), Handbook of Feminist Research. Sage Publications. pp. 567-578.
  42.  47
    Doing Philosophy As a Feminist: Longino on the Search for a Feminist Epistemology.Alison Wylie - 1995 - Philosophical Topics 23 (2):345-358.
  43.  7
    The Philosophy Exception Website Project.Alison Wylie, Matthew Smithdeal, Kristin Conrad Kilgallen & Jasper Heaton - forthcoming - Wiley: Journal of Social Philosophy.
    Journal of Social Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  44.  24
    Archaeological Cables and Tacking: The Implications of Practice for Bernstein's 'Options Beyond Objectivism and Relativism'.Alison Wylie - 1989 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 19 (1):1-18.
  45.  16
    The Philosophy Exception Website Project.Alison Wylie, Matthew Smithdeal, Kristin Conrad Kilgallen & Jasper Heaton - forthcoming - Journal of Social Philosophy.
    Journal of Social Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  46. Good Science, Bad Science, or Science as Usual?: Feminist Critiques of Science.Alison Wylie - 1997 - In Lori D. Hager (ed.), Women in Human Evolution. Routledge. pp. 29-55.
    I am often asked what feminism can possibly have to do with science. Feminism is, after all, an explicitly partisan, political standpoint; what bearing could it have on science, an enterprise whose hallmark is a commitment to value-neutrality and objectivity? Is feminism not a set of personal, political convictions best set aside (bracketed) when you engage in research as a scientist? I will argue that feminism has both critical and constructive relevance for a wide range of sciences, and that feminism (...)
     
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  47. Unification and Convergence in Archaeological Explanation: The Agricultural “Wave-of-Advance” and the Origins of Indo-European Languages.Alison Wylie - 1996 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 34 (S1):1-30.
    Given the diversity of explanatory practices that is typical of the sciences a healthy pluralism would seem to be desirable where theories of explanation are concerned. Nevertheless, I argue that explanations are only unifying in Kitcher's unificationist sense if they are backed by the kind of understanding of underlying mechanisms, dispositions, constitutions, and dependencies that is central to a causalist account of explanation. This case can be made through analysis of Kitcher's account of the conditions under which apparent improvements in (...)
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  48. From the Ground Up: Philosophy and Archaeology, 2017 Dewey Lecture.Alison Wylie - 2017 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 91:118-136.
    I’m often asked why, as a philosopher of science, I study archaeology. Philosophy is so abstract and intellectual, and archaeology is such an earth-bound, data-driven enterprise, what could the connection possibly be? This puzzlement takes a number of different forms. In one memorable exchange in the late 1970s when I was visiting Oxford as a graduate student an elderly don, having inquired politely about my research interests, tartly observed that archaeology isn’t a science, so I couldn’t possibly be writing a (...)
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    The Philosophy Exception Website Project.Alison Wylie, Matthew Smithdeal, Kristin Conrad Kilgallen & Jasper Heaton - forthcoming - Journal of Social Philosophy.
    Journal of Social Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  50. Feminism and Social Science.Alison Wylie - 1998 - In Edward Craig (ed.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 588-593.
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