Liberatory Epistemology and the Sharing of Knowledge: Querying the Norms
Feminist epistemology is a form of liberatory epistemology, and as such is focused on the role of knowledge production in the generation and maintenance of oppression and the effects of oppression on the production of and possibilities for knowledge. I argue that as part of this project, feminists need to take up the question: with whom do we share knowledge, and with whom should we share knowledge? To answer this, we must examine how knowledge-sharing norms function, particularly in contexts of oppression. Knowledge-sharing norms capture the expectations within a community or relationship concerning what knowledge ought to be voiced and thus shared across particular parties, and what knowledge either ought not, or need not be shared. I argue that, surprisingly, from the perspective of a liberatory epistemology, we cannot assume that increased knowledge sharing is always a good thing, but rather must assess the function and value of knowledge sharing and particular knowledge-sharing norms within localized contexts. Nevertheless, criteria for such assessments can be outlined, in accordance with the goals of a liberatory epistemology.
KeywordsFeminist epistemology Knowledge sharing liberatory epistemology secrecy
This paper has benefited from the comments of audiences who heard early versions at the CSWIP (Canadian Society for Women in Philosophy) annual conference in Edmonton, Alberta (October 2007), the Society for Analytical Feminism Conference in Lexington Kentucky (April 2008), and a Middlebury College Life of the Mind lecture (April 2008). I am especially indebted to Carla Fehr and Phyllis Rooney who read drafts of this paper in detail. Others who have offered helpful comments include Lorraine Code, Nancy Daukas, Ann Garry, Sandra Harding, Victor Nuovo, Dave Saldana, Susan Sherwin, Alexis Shotwell and Ilya Storm.
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