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)
Racist beliefs express value judgments. According to an influential view, value judgments are subjective, and not amenable to rational adjudication. In contrast, we argue that the value judgments expressed in, for example, racist beliefs, are false and objectively so. Our account combines a naturalized, philosophical account of meaning inspired by Donald Davidson, with a prominent social-psychological theory of values pioneered by the social-psychologist Milton Rokeach. We use this interdisciplinary approach to show that, just as with beliefs expressing descriptive judgments, beliefs (...) expressing value judgments have empirical content, or can be inferentially linked to beliefs that do; the truth or falsity of that content can be objectively assigned; and that assignment is amenable to rational assessment. While versions of this objective view of value judgments have been defended by moral realists of various metaphysical stripes, our argument has the virtue of appealing, instead, to accounts that are as naturalistically informed as possible. And, unlike the influential subjective view of value judgments, and racist beliefs more particularly, our arguments are better able to account for instances where rational, persuasive strategies have been effective in reducing the ubiquity of racism in American culture. (shrink)
While feminist epistemologists have made important contributions to the deconstruction of the traditional representationalist model, some elements of the Cartesian legacy remain. For example, relativism continues to play a role in the underdetermination thesis used by Longino and Keller. Both argue that because scientific theories are underdetermined by evidence, theory choice must be relative to interpretive frameworks. Utilizing Davidson's philosophy of language, I offer a nonrepresentationalist alternative to suggest how relativism can be more fully avoided.
In assessing the appropriateness of a scientific community's research effort, Solomon considers a number of "decision vectors," divided into the empirical and non-empirical. Value judgments get sorted as non-empirical vectors. By way of contrast, I introduce Anderson's discussion of the evidential role of value judgments. Like Anderson, I argue that value judgments are empirical in the relevant sense. I argue further that Solomon's decision matrix needs to be reconceptualized: the distinction should not be between the empirical vs. non-empirical, but between (...) the relevant vs. irrelevant. Whether particular value judgments are relevant or not is an empirical question, to be decided on a case-by-case basis. (shrink)
Fact/value holism has become commonplace in philosophy of science, especially in feminist literature. However, that facts are bearers of empirical content, while values are not, remains a firmly-held distinction. I support a more thorough-going holism: both facts and values can function as empirical claims, related in a seamless, semantic web. I address a counterexample from Kourany where facts and values seem importantly discontinuous, namely, the simultaneous support by the Nazis of scientifically sound cancer research and morally unsound political policies. I (...) conclude that even by the criteria available at the time, Nazi cancer research was empirically weak, and the weaknesses in their research are continuous with their moral failures in just the ways predicted by the holism I support. (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.
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)
In a recent essay — “How Can Feminist Theories of Evidence Assist Clinical Reasoning and Decision-making?” — Maya Goldenberg discusses criticisms of evidence-based medicine (or EBM) (Goldenberg 2013). She is particularly interested in those criticisms that make use of an epistemic appeal to the underdetermination of theory by evidence...
The hygiene hypothesis offers an explanation for the correlation, well-established in the industrialized nations of North and West, between increased hygiene and sanitation, and increased rates of asthma and allergies. Recent studies have added to the scope of the hypothesis, showing a link between decreased exposure to certain bacteria and parasitic worms, and increased rates of depression and intestinal auto- immune disorders, respectively. What remains less often discussed in the research on these links is that women have higher rates than (...) men of asthma and allergies, as well as many auto-immune disorders, and also depression. The current paper introduces a feminist understanding of gender socialization to the epidemiological and immunological picture. That standards of cleanliness are generally higher for girls than boys, especially under the age of five when children are more likely to be under close adult supervision, is a robust phenomenon in industrialized nations, and some research points to a cross- cultural pattern. I conclude that, insofar as the hygiene hypothesis successfully identifies standards of hygiene and sanitation as mediators of immune health, then attention to the relevant patterns of gender socialization is important. The review also makes clear that adding a feminist analysis of gender socialization to the hygiene hypothesis helps explain variation in morbidity rates not addressed by other sources and responds to a number of outstanding puzzles in current research. Alternative explanations for the sex differences in the relevant morbidity rates are also discussed (e.g., the effects of estrogens). Finally, new sources of evidence for the hygiene hypothesis are suggested in the form of cross-cultural and other natural experiments. (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.
The works of the later Wittgenstein resonate with aspects of the pragmatist tradition in American philosophy. Davidson’s work is similarly informed. We argue that because of their association with the pragmatist tradition, their work can be put to use by philosophers interested in social justice issues, including, for example, feminism, and critical race theory. Philosophers concerned with social justice continue to struggle between the extremes of an untenable foundationalism and a radical relativism. Given their holistic understanding of knowledge, meaning and (...) communication, the work of Wittgenstein and Davidson is particularly suited to dissolving the foundationalist/relativist dichotomy. We explore how this and other features of their work facilitates philosophy for social change. (shrink)
In lieu of an abstract here is the first paragraph: -/- I mean the subtitle of my essay both as praise for the clarity with which Elizabeth Anderson writes about what is at stake in debates about values in science, and as a promise to outline an even more direct route to the heart of the matter. I begin with a quick review of the steps in Anderson’s argument that seem necessary and, indeed, laudable, followed by a brief discussion of (...) those steps in her argument that we might fruitfully skip. The hope is that we will arrive at roughly the same location but with a firmer foothold. (shrink)
I have argued that political values are beliefs informed, more or less well, by the evidence of experience and that, where relevant and well-supported by evidence, the inclusion of political values in scientific theorizing can increase the objectivity of research. The position I endorse has been called the “values-as-evidence” approach. In this essay I respond to three kinds of resistance to this approach, using examples of feminist political values. Solomon questions whether values are beliefs that can be tested, Alcoff argues (...) that even if our values are beliefs that can be tested, testing them might not be desirable because doing so assigns these important values a contingency that weakens their normative force, and Yap argues that the approach is too idealistic in its articulation of the role of evidence in our political deliberations. In response, I discuss the ways that values can be tested, I analyze the evidential strength of feminist values in science, and I argue that the evidence-based nature of these values is neither a weakness nor an idealization. Problems with political values affecting science properly concern the dogmatic ways that evaluative beliefs are sometimes held—a problem that arises with dogmatism toward descriptive beliefs as well. I conclude that scientists, as with the rest of us, ought to adopt a pragmatically-inclined appreciation of the fallible, inductive process by which we gather evidence in support of any of our beliefs, whether they are described as evaluative or descriptive. (shrink)
Compiled by an archaeologist and philosopher of science, Science at the Frontiers: Perspectives on the History and Philosophy of Science supplements current literature in the history and philosophy of science with essays approaching the traditional problems of the field from new perspectives and highlighting disciplines usually overlooked by the canon. William H. Krieger brings together scientists from a number of disciplines to answer these questions and more in a volume appropriate for both students and academics in the field.