Date: 26 Mar 2011

The Marginalization of Feminist Epistemology and What That Reveals About Epistemology ‘Proper’

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Abstract

Though feminist epistemology has been in place for a quarter century, it still remains marginalized, if not invisible, in ‘mainstream’ epistemology. An implicit, if not explicit, assumption that feminist epistemology is not epistemology ‘proper’ regularly underwrites this marginalization. The construction of feminist work as ‘other’ to epistemology ‘proper’ reflects the legacy of a philosophical history of sexism and racism more than it reflects a uniform coherent project or area of inquiry that has been in place under the rubric ‘epistemology.’ Specific epistemological as well as political insights into the development of epistemology (of knowledge about knowledge) are available when we critically examine the relationship between feminist epistemology and mainstream epistemology. These epistemological or, in many cases, metaepistemological insights merit particular attention and development at this time. The proliferation of different approaches or directions in epistemology in recent decades provides rich ground for advantageous feminist intervention. Such intervention is necessary for the recovery of epistemology as a central philosophical discipline attuned to worlds of moral and political complexity.