(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)
During the scientific revolution reductionism and mechanism were introduced together. These concepts remained intertwined through much of the ensuing history of philosophy and science, resulting in the privileging of approaches to research that focus on the smallest bits of nature. This combination of concepts has been the object of intense feminist criticism, as it encourages biological determinism, narrows researchers’ choices of problems and methods, and allows researchers to ignore the contextual features of the phenomena they investigate. I argue that (...) the historical link between mechanism and reductionism is not a necessary one, that this link should be severed, and in many cases has already been severed. Teasing reductionism away from mechanism allows us to hold onto the mechanistic view that science should explain how things work, without mandating methods and approaches that reduce the objects of scientific investigation to their smallest parts. Mechanism without reductionism decenters reductive methods, and so creates intellectual space for a plurality of methods that may engage the world at a variety of levels of organization. This ensuing pluralism opens the door for a wide variety of approaches to research, including feminist and gender-sensitive science. (shrink)
This chapter’s main topic revolves around Davidson’s account of radical interpretation and the concept of triangulation as a necessary feature of communication and the formation of beliefs. There are two important implications of this model of belief formation for feminists studying the effects of social location on knowledge production generally, and the production of scientific knowledge in particular. The first is Davidson’s argument that whatever there is to the meaning of any of our beliefs must be available from the radical (...) interpreter’s external, third-person perspective. The second important implication of triangulation is that Davidson’s model is a holistic one that shows that there is no substantive difference in the triangulation process by which we form beliefs concerning basic descriptive features of the world and beliefs concerning evaluative features of the world. (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)
College campus-based surveys of sexual assault in the United States have generated one of the most high-profile and contentious figures in the history of social science: the ‘1 in 5’ statistic. Referring to the number of women who have experienced either attempted or completed sexual assault since their time in college, ‘1 in 5’ has done significant work in making the prevalence of this experience legible to the public and to policy-makers. Here I examine how sexual assault surveys have (...) participated in structuring the ontology of date/acquaintance rape from the 1980s to today. I review the foundational work of feminist social scientists Diana Russell and Mary Koss, with particular attention to the methodological practices through which the concept of the ‘hidden’ or ‘unacknowledged’ rape victim emerged. I then examine a selection of early 21st-century sexual assault surveys and highlight the ongoing preoccupation with survey methodology in responses to their results. I argue that the survey itself has been a central actor in the ontological politics of sexual assault, and only by closely attending to its performativity can we understand the paradoxical persistence both of critical responses to the ‘1 in 5’ statistic and of its effective deployment in anti-violence policy. (shrink)
Ecological feminism is a feminism which attempts to unite the demands of the women's movement with those of the ecological movement. Ecofeminists often appeal to "ecology" in support of their claims, particularly claims about the importance of feminism to environmentalism. What is missing from the literature is any sustained attempt to show respects in which ecological feminism and the science of ecology are engaged in complementary, mutually supportive projects. In this paper we attempt to do (...) that by showing ten important similarities which establish the need for and benefits of on-going dialogue between ecofeminists and ecosystem ecologists. (shrink)
Reflecting upon the recent growth of interest in feminist ideas of philosophy of science, this book traces the development of the subject within the confines of feminist philosophy. It is designed to introduce the newcomer to the main ideas that form the subject area with a view to equipping students with all the major arguments and standpoints required to understand this burgeoning area of study. Arranged thematically, the book looks at the spectrum of views that have arisen in the (...) debate. It is broadly arranged into sections dealing with concepts such as the notion of value free-science, values, objectivity, point of view and relativism, but also details the many subsidiary ideas that have sprung from these topics. (shrink)
The logical empiricists often appear as a foil for feminist theories. Their emphasis on the individualistic nature of knowledge and on the value-neutrality of science seems directly opposed to most feminist concerns. However, several recent works have highlighted aspects of Carnap's views that make him seem like much less of a straightforwardly positivist thinker. Certain of these aspects lend themselves to feminist concerns much more than the stereotypical picture would imply.
Ecological feminism is a feminism which attempts to unite the demands of the women's movement with those of the ecological movement. Ecofeminists often appeal to “ecology” in support of their claims, particularly claims about the importance of feminism to environmentalism. What is missing from the literature is any sustained attempt to show respects in which ecological feminism and the science of ecology are engaged in complementary, mutually supportive projects. In this paper we attempt to do (...) that by showing ten important similarities which establish the need for and benefits of on-going dialogue between ecofeminists and ecosystem ecologists. (shrink)
This article explores a theoretical legacy that underpins the ways in which many social scientists come to know and understand obesity. In attempting to distance itself from essentialist discourses, it is not surprising that this literature focuses on the discursive construction of fat bodies rather than the materiality or agency of bodily matter. Ironically, in developing arguments that only critique representations of obesity or fat bodies, social science scholars have maintained and reproduced a central dichotomy of Cartesian thinking – (...) that between social construction and biology. In this article I examine the limitations of social constructionist arguments in obesity/critical fat studies and the implications for ignoring materiality. Through bringing together the theoretical insights of material feminism and obesity science’s attention to maternal nutrition and the fetal origins hypothesis, this article moves beyond the current philosophical impasse, and repositions biological and social constructionist approaches to obesity not as mutually exclusive, but as one of constant interplay and connectedness. (shrink)
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)
In this paper I set out the problem of feminist social science as the need to explain and justify its method of theory choice in relation to both its own theories and those of androcentric social science. In doing this, it needs to avoid both a positivism which denies the impact of values on scientific theory-choice and a radical relativism which undercuts the emancipatory potential of feminist research. From the relevant literature I offer two possible solutions: the Holistic (...) and the Constructivist models of theory-choice. I then rate these models according to what extent they solve the problem of feminist social science. I argue that the principal distinction between these models is in their contrasting conceptions of truth. Solving the problem of feminist social science will require understanding that what is at stake in the debate is our conception of truth. This understanding will serve to clarify, though not resolve, the various approaches to and disagreements over methodologies and explanations in feminist social science. (shrink)
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)
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)
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.
Feminist epistemology and philosophy of science is the study of the significance of gender for the acquisition and justification of knowledge. At its inception, feminist epistemology was in large part concerned with science and showed more affinity with the history and philosophy of science and with social and cultural studies of science than with mainstream epistemology. Since the early 2000s, however, significant new trends have led to the production of extremely innovative work, such as a turn (...) toward a conception of matter as being in some ways like an agent in science studies, as well as a focus on topics at the interface between ethics and epistemology in feminist epistemology. (shrink)
Summarizes author’s contextual empiricism and uses it to analyze the difference between neuro-endocrinological accounts of presumed behavioral sex differences and neuro-selectionist accounts. Contextual empiricism is a philosophical approach that both shows how feminist critique works in the sciences and makes a contribution to general philosophy of science.
This book combines the insights of enlightenment thinking and feminist theory to explore the significance of love in modern philosophy. The author argues for the importance of emotion in general, and love in particular, to moral and political philosophy, pointing out that some of the central philosophers of the enlightment were committed to a moralized conception of love. However, she believes that feminism's insights arise not from its attribution of special and distinctive qualities to women, but from its recognition (...) of human vulernability. (shrink)
: This paper investigates the mutual embeddedness of "nature" and "culture," as well as the intersections between race, gender, and sexuality, in the story of the HeLa cell line as viewed by a practicing feminist scientist. It provides a feminist analysis of the scientific discourse surrounding the HeLa cell line, and explores how feminist theories of science can provide a constructive and critical lens through which laboratory scientists can view their work.
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 has much to gain from the sciences, including at least some of those that even the most querulous of my interlocutors would dignify as “real” science. I will concentrate here on the critical import of feminism for science, but will identify constructive implications as I go. -/- But first, some ground work. Let me begin with some brief comments about what it is I take feminism to be, and why feminists have been interested in science —why they have undertaken to comment on, scrutinize, and actively engage in science. In the body of this chapter I want to disentangle several quite distinct kinds of feminist critiques of science. I will conclude with some suggestions about what feminism and science have to offer one another that could be, indeed that is, already proving to be very substantially enriching for both a range of scientific disciplines and for feminism. (shrink)
Feminist educators and theorists are stretching the boundaries of what it means to do religion and science. They are also expanding the theoretical and practical frameworks through which we might present curricula in thosefields. In this paper, I reflect on the implications of feminist pedagogies for the interdisciplinary field of religion and science. I begin with a brief discussion of feminist approaches to education and the nature of the feminist classroom as a setting for action. Next, I present (...) some theoretical and practical issues to consider when developing a feminist praxis and an antisexist curriculum. This leads into a discussion of the role of language and critical reflection in the religion and science classroom, the risks associated with reflective discourse, and considerations in the use of ‘feminist’ teaching tools such as small group work, journals, and portfolio assessment. Iconclude with a reflection on how feminist pedagogy promotes an epistemology that speaks to the hearts and minds of participants in the dialogue of religion and science. (shrink)
This article explores possibilities for establishing dialogues between feminism and constructivism in the field of technology studies. Based on an overview of Norwegian feminist debates about technology, it indicates several points where feminism and constructivism meet and can mutually benefit from each other. The article critically examines feminist studies questioning the problems of technological determinism, social deternacnism, and essentialism. It criticizes constructivism for a lack of concern for gender and politics but holds that it is still possible to (...) use theoretical tools from constructivism in feminist analyses. Fruitful dialogues require the application of the principle of symmetry to the dcalogues and sharing some common ground and mutual recognation of each other's strengths and weaknesses. (shrink)
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 well as a locus of gender inequalities: the institutions of science have (...) a long tradition of excluding women as practitioners; feminist critics of science find that women and gender (or, more broadly, issues of concern to women and sex/gender minorities) are routinely marginalized as subjects of scientific inquiry, or are treated in ways that reproduce gender-normative stereotypes; and, closing the circle, scientific authority has frequently served to rationalize the kinds of social roles and institutions that feminists call into question. -/- Feminist perspectives on science therefore reflect a broad spectrum of epistemic attitudes toward and appraisals of science. Some urge the reform of gender inequities in the institutions of science and call for attention to neglected questions with the aim of improving the sciences in their own terms; they do not challenge the standards and practices of the sciences they engage. Others pursue jointly critical and constructive programs of research that, to varying degrees, aim at transforming the methodologies, substantive content, framework assumptions, and epistemic ideals that animate the sciences. The content of these perspectives, and the degree to which they generate transformative critique, depends not only on the types of philosophical and political commitments that inform them but also on the nature of the sciences and subject domains on which they bear. Feminist perspectives have had greatest impact on sciences that deal with inherently gendered subjects—the social and human sciences—and, secondarily, on sciences that study subjects characterized in gendered terms, metaphorically or by analogy (projectively gendered subjects), chiefly the biological and life sciences. Feminist perspectives are relevant to sciences that deal with non-gendered subject matters, but perspectives vary substantially in content and in critical import depending on the sciences and the particular research programs they engage. (shrink)
This paper surveys three controversial new directions in research about the nature of science and briefly summarizes both the intellectual and sociological impact of this work. A bibliographic introduction to the major literature is provided and some fruitful directions for future research are proposed. Philosophers of science are also exhorted to perform 'community service' by correcting misunderstandings of the methods of science fostered by these new approaches.
Ecology and constructivism are motivated by broadly shared political aspirations and subscribe to similar critiques of technocratism, patriarchy. and "instrumental rational ity." But they diverge considerably in respect to the discourses they offer on "nature." By staging an encounter between ecological argument and feminist comtructivist theory, this article seeks to illuminate, and to indicate the means of resolving, the ontological tensions between these respective critiques of modernity. It recognizes that the constructivist emphasis on the "discursivity" of nature offers an important (...) corrective to the more simplistic, and potentially reactionary, aspects of ecological rhetoric but defends a realist perspective as essential to the coherence of any gender theory and politics. (shrink)
Feminist critiques of science are widely dispersed and often quite inaccessible as a body of literature. We describe briefly some of the influences evident in this literature and identify several key themes which are central to current debates. This is the introduction to a bibliography of general critiques of science, described as the “core literature,” and a selection of feminist critiques of biology. Our objective has been to identify those analyses which raise reflexive (epistemological and methodological) questions about (...) the status of scientific knowledge and practice, both in general terms and in relation to biological research. We have abstracted these listings from a body of material compiled by members of the research project, “Philosophical Feminism: The Critiques of Science,” which covers a range of discipline-specific critiques beyond biology, as well as the more general philosophical critiques which constitute the core of the present bibliography. (shrink)
This paper investigates the mutual embeddedness of “nature” and “culture,” as well as the intersections between race, gender, and sexuality, in the story of the HeLa cell line as viewed by a practicing feminist scientist. It provides a feminist analysis of the scientific discourse surrounding the HeLa cell line, and explores how feminist theories of science can provide a constructive and critical lens through which laboratory scientists can view their work.