Information Systems Frontiers

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 143-154

First online:

Feminist Philosophy and Information Systems

  • Alison AdamAffiliated withInformation Systems Institute, University of Salford Email author 
  • , Helen RichardsonAffiliated withInformation Systems Institute, University of Salford

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This paper offers a new approach to the philosophical foundations of information systems (IS) through feminist philosophy and, in particular, feminist epistemology. This can be used to expose the universalizing tendency of many information systems and to show the importance of using real-life complex examples rather than the simplified examples often favored by philosophers. Within traditional epistemology and its relation to IS, subjectivity, the propositional/skills distinction and epistemic hierarchies are subject to arguments from feminist epistemology. With respect to the emerging critical school of IS, feminist epistemology, and within that, feminist standpoint theory, are used to examine the complexities of the positivist/anti-positivist position and the related concept of emancipation. In addition, it is argued that the liberal version of emancipation encapsulated in such systems may have an effect opposite to that of emancipation These issues are illustrated in an existing expert systems project.

philosophical foundations of IS feminist philosophy feminist epistemology