, Volume 17, Issue 10, pp 1089-1110
Date: 24 Dec 2006

Feminist philosophy of science: ‘standpoint’ and knowledge

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Abstract

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 a standpoint theory both contributes to a better understanding of scientific knowledge and can provide a feminist epistemology.