This essay is a critical review of Sandra Harding's The Science Question in Feminism. Her text constitutes a monumental effort to capture an overview of recent feminist critique of science and to develop a feminist dialectical and materialist conception of the history of masculinist science. In this analysis of Harding's work, the organizing categories as well as the main assumptions of the text are reconstructed for closer examination within the context of modern feminist critique of (...) class='Hi'>science and feminist theory in general. Although a postive review of Harding's text is presented, questions are raised concerning the adequacy of socialist feminist assumptions for such a project, the limitations of Harding's theorization of gender, and the appropriateness of "postmodernism" as a final category of residence. (shrink)
This paper explores a number of recent proposals regarding "feminist science" and rejects a content-based approach in favor of a process-based approach to characterizing feminist science. Philosophy of science can yield models of scientific reasoning that illuminate the interaction between cultural values and ideology and scientific inquiry. While we can use these models to expose masculine and other forms of bias, we can also use them to defend the introduction of assumptions grounded in feminist political values.
Feminist contributions to the science curricula in higher education constitute invaluable but often overlooked resources for truly effective communication about science. Here I share a sampling of feminist science studies and discuss the origins of this effort to create inclusive and less biased science curricula that serve all students and citizens. Challenges from scientists center on assumptions and values about the appropriate relationship between science and politics, while challenges from educators extend to assumptions about how (...)science has been taught. Currently, national and local curriculum transformation efforts are producing useful insights and materials. (shrink)
A feminist primer for philosophers of science -- The legacy of twentieth century philosophy of science -- What feminist science studies can offer -- Challenges from every direction -- The prospects of twenty-first century philosophy of science.
(Series copy) The new Oxford Readings in Feminism series maps the dramatic influence of feminist theory on every branch of academic knowledge. Offering feminist perspectives on disciplines from history to science, each book assembles the most important articles written on its field in the last ten to fifteen years. Old stereotypes are challenged and traditional attitudes upset in these lively-- and sometimes controversial--volumes, all of which are edited by feminists prominent in their particular field. Comprehensive, accessible, and intellectually (...) daring, the Oxford Readings in Feminism series is vital reading for anyone interested in the effects of feminist ideas within the academy. Can science be gender-neutral? In recent years, feminist critics have raised troubling questions about the practice and goals of traditional science, demonstrating the existence of a pervasive bias in the ways in which scientists conduct and discuss their work. This exciting volume gathers seventeen essays--by sociologists, scientists, historians, and philosophers--of seminal significance in the emerging field of feminist science studies. Analyzing topics from the stereotype of the "Man of Reason" to the "romantic" language of reproductive biology, these fascinating essays challenge readers to take a fresh look at the limitations--and possibilities--of scientific knowledge. (shrink)
Clough shows how inadequate empirical philosophy is in creating real change in the sciences. Instead, she supports a more pragmatic approach based on the work of Richard Rorty and Donald Davidson. This work encourages Clough's fellow feminists to refocus their critiques and discard their philosophical debates about epistemology.
This collection of essays, first published two decades ago, presents central feminist critiques and analyses of natural and social sciences and their philosophies. Unfortunately, in spite of the brilliant body of research and scholarship in these fields in subsequent decades, the insights of these essays remain as timely now as they were then: philosophy and the sciences still presume kinds of social innocence to which they are not entitled. The essays focus on Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hobbes, Rousseau, and Marx; on (...) the 'adversary method' model of philosophic reasoning; on principles of individuation on philosophical ontology and philosophy of language; on individualistic assumptions in psychology; functionalism in sociological and biological theory; evolutionary theory; the methodology of political science; and conceptions of objective inquiry in the sciences. In taking insights of both Liberal and Marxian women's movements into the purportedly most abstract and value-free areas of Western thought, these essays chart sexist and androcentric assumptions, claims and practices in the cognitive, technical cores of Western sciences and their philosophies. They begin to identify the distinctive aspects of women's experiences and locations in male-supremacist social structures which can provide resources needed for the creation of post-androcentric thinking in research, scholarship, and public policy. Such uses of feminist insights remain controversial today, and even among some feminists. These authors were all junior researchers and scholars two decades ago; today many are among the most distinguished senior scholars in their fields. Their work here provides a splendid opportunity for upper-level undergraduate and graduate students in philosophy and the social sciences to explore some of the most intriguing and controversial challenges to disciplinary projects and to public policy today. (shrink)
Feminist philosophy of science has been criticized on several counts. On the one hand, it is claimed that it results in relativism of the worst sort since the political commitment to feminism is prima facie incompatible with scientific objectivity. On the other hand, when critics acknowledge that there may be some value in work that feminists have done, they comment that there is nothing particularly feminist about their accounts. I argue that both criticisms can be addressed through a (...) better understanding of the current work in feminist epistemology. I offer an examination of standpoint theory as an illustration. Harding and Wylie have suggested ways in which the objectivity question can be addressed. These two accounts, together with a third approach, ‘model-based objectivity’, indicate there is a clear sense in which we can understand how standpoint theory both contributes to a better understanding of scientific knowledge and can provide a feminist epistemology. (shrink)
The “context of discovery” and “context of justification” distinction has been used by Noretta Koertge and Lynn Hankinson Nelson in debates over the legitimacy of feminist approaches to philosophy of science. Koertge uses the context distinction to focus the conversation by barring certain approaches. I contend this focus masks points of true disagreement about the nature of justification. Nonetheless, Koertge raises important questions that have been too quickly set aside by some. I conclude that the context distinction should not (...) be used to block feminist philosophy of science because the use of the context distinction is deeply ambiguous, masking underlying debates about naturalism and the nature of justification. (shrink)
Feminist philosophy of science appears to present problems for the ideal of value-free science. These difficulties also challenge a traditional understanding of the objectivity of science. However, feminist philosophers of science have good reasons for desiring to retain some concept of objectivity. The present essay considers several recent and influential feminist approaches to the role of social and political values in science, with particular focus on feminist empiricism and feminist standpoint theory. The similarities and difference, (...) as well as the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches are explored. The essay concludes with suggestions for future research in the area of feminist epistemology and philosophy of science. (shrink)
Feminist theorists have shown that knowledge is embodied in ways that make a difference in science. Intemann properly endorses feminist standpoint theory over Longino’s empiricism, insofar as the former better addresses embodiment. I argue that a pragmatist analysis further improves standpoint theory: Pragmatism avoids the radical subjectivity that otherwise leaves us unable to account for our ability to share scientific knowledge across bodies of different kinds; and it allows us to argue for the inclusion, not just of the knowledge (...) produced from marginalised bodies, but of the marginalised themselves. (shrink)
: The relationship between facts and values—in particular, naturalism and normativity—poses an ongoing challenge for feminist science studies. Some have argued that the fact/value holism of W.V. Quine's naturalized epistemology holds promise. I argue that Quinean epistemology, while appropriately naturalized, might weaken the normative force of feminist claims. I then show that Quinean epistemic themes are unnecessary for feminist science studies. The empirical nature of our work provides us with all the naturalized normativity we need.
In this wide-ranging interview with three members of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Sao Paolo (Brazil) Wylie explains how she came to work on philosophical issues raised in and by archaeology, describes the contextualist challenges to ‘received view’ models of confirmation and explanation in archaeology that inform her work on the status of evidence and contextual ideals of objectivity, and discusses the role of non-cognitive values in science. She also is pressed to explain what’s feminist about (...) feminist research and in that connection outlines her account of feminist standpoint theory and the relevance of feminist analysis to science. (shrink)
Feminist perspectives have been increasingly influential on philosophy of science. Feminism and Philosophy of Science is designed to introduce the newcomer to the central themes, issues and arguments of this burgeoning area of study. Elizabeth Potter engages in a rigorous and well-organized study that takes in the views of key feminist theorists - Nelson, Wylie, Anderson, Longino and Harding - whose arguments exemplify contemporary feminist philosophy of science. The book is divided into six chapters looking at (...) important themes: naturalized feminist empiricism feminist value theory feminist conceptual empiricism standpoint epistemologies of science value-free science Arranged thematically, F eminism and Philosophy of Science looks at the spectrum of views that have arisen in the debate, and unpicks the arguments on key topics such as value-free science, values, objectivity, point of view and relativism. It assumes no previous knowledge of the subject, and is written in an accessible, student-friendly style. It will be an important read for students of philosophy, philosophy of science, gender studies and feminist studies. (shrink)
This book presents the current feminist critique of science and the philosophy of science in such a way that students of philosophy of science, philosophers, feminist theorists, and scientists will find the material accessible and intellectually rigorous.Contemporary feminist debate, as well as the debate brought on by the radical critics of science, assumes—incorrectly—that certain movements in philosophy of science and science-driven theory are understood in their dynamics as well as in their details. All too (...) often, labels such as “Kuhnian” or “positivistic” are taken for granted, and much of the contemporary postmodern or post-structuralist feminist theory that sets out to criticize science does little to alleviate the reader’s lack of knowledge with regard to such movements.Unlike other texts, Philosophies of Science: Feminist Theories provides a student-oriented framework so that, for example, positivism is given a thorough grounding before the feminist critique of such epistemological theory is given. Other movements discussed include the Kuhnian turn, sociology of science, and the radical critique of science. Feminist theory and critique are interwoven throughout, with one chapter devoted to feminist thought, which includes the work of such thinkers as Longino, Hararway, Hubbard, Nelson, Harding, and Keller. (shrink)
We offer a critical analysis of the science and politics of global climate change from a feminist pragmatist perspective, with special attention to the interactions between science and policy. We find the current state of play in all three areas (science, policy, and the space of interaction between them) to be lacking. We attribute mutual responsibility for the current impasse in addressing the climate crisis. What is called for is an alternative framework for thinking about science (...) and policy interactions, which we sketch in general and in application to the increasingly serious problem of global climate change. (shrink)
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 (...) on those who occupy them. Standpoint theory is best construed as conceptual framework for investigating the ways in which socially situated experience and interests make a contingent difference to what we know (well), and to the resources we have for determining which knowledge claims we can trust. I illustrate the advantages of this account in terms of two examples drawn from archaeological sources. (shrink)
If feminists argue for the irreducibility of the social dimensions of science, then they ought to embrace the idea that feminist and non-feminist scientists are not in collaboration, but in fact defend different interests. Instead, however, contemporary feminist science studies literature argues that feminist research improves particular, existing scientific enterprises, both epistemically (truer claims) and politically (more democratic methodologies and applications). I argue that the concepts of empirical success and democracy at work in this literature from Longino (1994) (...) and Harding (1996), to Longino (2002), Gilbert and Rader (2001), and Keller (2001) are not sufficiently critical, and fail to do justice to the truly revolutionary work done by feminist scientists. I offer the beginnings of an epistemology of dissensus (as opposed to consensus), using the work of Haraway (1978), Lyotard (1984), and Ziarek (2001). How would such an epistemology relate to feminist discussions of the possibility of democratic, responsible knowledge? (shrink)
: This paper explores models of reflexive feminist science studies through the work of Donna Haraway. The paper argues that Haraway provides an important account of science studies that is both feminist and constructivist. However, her concepts of "situated knowledges" and "diffraction" need further development to be adequate models of feminist science studies. To develop this constructivist and feminist project requires a collective research program that engages with feminist reflexivity as a practice.
This paper explores models of reflexive feminist science studies through the work of Donna Haraway. The paper argues that Haraway provides an important account of science studies that is both feminist and constructivist. However, her concepts of "situated knowledges" and "diffraction" need further development to be adequate models of feminist science studies. To develop this constructivist and feminist project requires a collective research program that engages with feminist reflexivity as a practice.
This paper examines the conclusions that one must draw from the finding that there are values in science. The value-ladenness of scientific claims puts the nature and role of empirical evidence into question, as seen in recent discussions in the philosophy of medicine regarding evidence-based medicine and feminist science studies, which maintains the normativity of its feminist claims. Within the critical literature and debates surrounding evidence-based medicine (EBM), one finds a championing of the lessons learned from post-positivist (...) class='Hi'>science studies: the evidence-based effort to ground medical decision-making in the most rigorous sources of scientific evidence obscures the social values that necessarily enter into all decision-making contexts, the complex social context of clinical practice being no exception. The critics of EBM claim that to try to derive a formal methodology governed by pre-established rules, guidelines, and hierarchies of information misplaces the contextual and social features of biomedical knowledge and practice, thereby obscuring the power interests that so problematically dictate large factions of biomedical research and practice. Yet possible relativist implications follow from this finding, and we find that the EBM critics amply criticize EBM’s tacit theory of evidence, but then fail to formulate a constructive alternative theory of evidence within this fact-value interplay. After overviewing some such criticisms of evidence-based medicine, I turn to contemporary critical science studies, especially the feminist empiricism of Lynn Hankinson Nelson and Helen Longino, for workable alternative theories of evidence within a framework of normative scientific claims. I will suggest these theories fail to guide medical decision-making because of some undesirable consequences of Quinean fact-value holism: the denial that our values have logical content and are therefore not empirically examinable relativises even these nuanced conceptions of evidence. A naturalized look at how facts and values actually interact in medical decision-making suggests that this fact/value holism is not realistic. I provide an illustrative example of a physician devising a treatment recommendation for a patient to demonstrate that in practice, facts and values intermingle in the decision-making process without indeterminacy and subsequent appeals to moral and political frameworks, as feminist empiricism suggests. In the end, value-laden evidence can retain its adjudicative force and normativity. (shrink)
In patriarchy women are frequently perceived as “the other” and as such they are subject to discrimination and marginalization. The androcentric character of patriarchy inherently confines women to the fringes of society. Undeniably, this was the case in Western culture throughout most of the twentieth century, before the social transformation triggered by the feminist movement enabled women to access spheres previously unavailable to them. Feminist science fiction of the 1970s, like feminism, attempted to challenge the patriarchal status quo (...) in which gender-based discrimination against women was the norm. Thus, authors expressed, in a fictionalized form, the same issues that constituted the primary concerns of feminism in its second wave. As feminist science fiction is an imaginative genre, the critique of the abuses of the twentieth-century patriarchy is usually developed in defamiliarized, unreal settings. Consequently, current problems are recontextualized, a technique which is meant to give the reader a new perspective on certain aspects of life they might otherwise take for granted, such as the inadequacies of patriarchy and women’s marginality in society. Yet there are authors who consider the real world dystopian enough to be used as a setting for their novels. This is the case with Woman on theEdge of Time by Marge Piercy and The Female Man by Joanna Russ. Both texts split the narrative into a science fictional and a realistic strand so as to contrast the contemporary world with utopian and dystopian alternatives. Both texts are largely politicized as they expose and challenge the marginalized status of women in the American society of the 1970s. They explore the process of constructing marginalized identities, as well as the forms that marginalization takes in the society. Most importantly, they indicate the necessity of decisive steps being taken to improve the situation. (shrink)
Feminist analyses of science have grown dramatically in scope, diversity, and impact in the years since Nancy Tuana edited the two-volume issue of Hypatia on “Feminism and Science” (Fall 1987, Spring 1988). What had begun in the 1960s and 1970s as a “trickle of scholarship on feminism and science” had widened by the mid-1980s “into a continuous stream” (Rosser 1987, 5). Fifteen years later, the stream has become something of a torrent. The essays assembled for (...) this special issue of Hypatia represent a vibrant fi eld of scholarship that has matured and diversifi ed in many respects, and that presupposes a number of hard-won insights that were just beginning to emerge in the mid-1980s. To take the measure of these developments, consider briefl y where we have come from. (shrink)
Women themselves, for the most part, think of themselves as the sensible sex, whose business it is to undo the harm that comes of men's impetuous follies. For my part, I distrust all generalizations about women, favourable and unfavourable, masculine and feminine, ancient and modern; all alike, I should say, result from paucity of experience.
Feminist philosophy of science has led to improvements in the practices and products of scientific knowledge-making, and in this way it exemplifies socially relevant philosophy of science. It has also yielded important insights and original research questions for philosophy. Feminist scholarship on science thus presents a worthy thought-model for considering how we might build a more socially relevant philosophy of science—the question posed by the editors of this special issue. In this analysis of the history, contributions, (...) and challenges faced by feminist philosophy of science, I argue that engaged case study work and interdisciplinarity have been central to the success of feminist philosophy of science in producing socially relevant scholarship, and that its future lies in the continued development of robust and dynamic philosophical frameworks for modeling social values in science. Feminist philosophers of science, however, have often encountered marginalization and persistent misunderstandings, challenges that must be addressed within the institutional and intellectual culture of American philosophy. (shrink)