Altogether Now: A Virtue-Theoretic Approach to Pluralism in Feminist Epistemology



In this paper I develop and support a feminist virtue epistemology and bring it into conversation with feminist contextual empiricism and feminist standpoint theory. The virtue theory I develop is centered on the virtue of epistemic trustworthiness, which foregrounds the social/political character of knowledge practices and products, and the differences between epistemic agencies that perpetuate, on the one hand, and displace, on the other hand, normative patterns of unjust epistemic discrimination. I argue that my view answers important questions regarding epistemic agency which both contextual empiricism and standpoint theory leave open, but need to have answered. Feminist virtue epistemology thus emerges as providing an integrative framework for pluralism in feminist epistemology that illuminates connections among theories through engagement with the lived experiences, aspirations, and epistemic work of feminist epistemic agents.


Contextual empiricism Feminist epistemology Standpoint theory Testimonial justice Trustworthiness Virtue epistemology 


  1. Anderson, Elizabeth. 2009. Feminist epistemology and philosophy of science. In The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. Winter 2009 edition: Edward N. Zalta ed. Forthcoming.
  2. Biology and Gender Study Group. 1988. The importance of feminist critique for contemporary cell biology. Hypatia 3: 61–76.Google Scholar
  3. Bleier, Ruth. 1984. Science and gender: A critique of biology and its theories on women. Elmsford: Pergamom Press.Google Scholar
  4. Braatan, Jane. 1990. Towards a feminist reassessment of intellectual virtue. Hypatia 5(3): 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Code, Lorraine. 1987. Epistemic responsibility. Hanover: University Press of New England/Brown University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Code, Lorraine. 1991. What can she know? Feminist theory and the construction of knowledge. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Code, Lorraine. 1994. Responsibility and rhetoric. Hypatia 9(1): 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Code, Lorraine. 1995. Rhetorical spaces: Essays on gendered locations. New York/London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Code, Lorraine. 1998. Epistemology. In A companion to feminist philosophy, ed. Alison Jaggar and Iris Marion Young, 173–184. Malden/London: Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar
  10. Code, Lorraine. 2006. Ecological thinking: The politics of epistemic location. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Cohen, Stewart. 1987. Knowledge, context, and social standards. Synthese 73: 3–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Collins, Patricia Hill. 1986. Learning from the outsider within: The sociological significance of black feminist thought. Social Problems 33(6): 14–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Collins, Patricia Hill. 1991. Black feminist thought. New York/London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  14. Daukas, Nancy. 2002. Skepticism, contextualism, and the epistemic “ordinary”. Philosophical Forum 31(1): 63–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Daukas, Nancy. 2006. Epistemic trust and social location. Episteme: A Journal of Social Epistemology 3(1): 109–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. DeRose, Keith. 1999. Contextualism: An explanation and defense. In The Blackwell guide to epistemology, ed. John Greco and Ernest Sosa, 187–205. Malden/Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  17. Fausto-Sterling, Anne. 1992. Myths of gender: Biological theories about women and men, 2nd ed. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  18. Fausto-Sterling, Anne. 2000. Sexing the body: Gender politics and the construction of sexuality. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  19. Fricker, Miranda. 2003. Epistemic injustice and a role for virtue in the politics of knowing. In Moral and epistemic virtues, ed. Michael Brady and Duncan Pritchard, 139–158. Malden/Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  20. Fricker, Miranda. 2007. Epistemic injustice: Power & the ethics of knowing. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Frye, Marilyn. 1983. The politics of reality. Freedom: The Crossing Press.Google Scholar
  22. Gould, Stephen Jay. 1996. The mismeasure of Man, 2nd ed. New York/London: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
  23. Grasswick, Heidi. 2008. Feminist social epistemology. In The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. Fall 2008 edition: Edward N. Zalta ed.
  24. Greco, John, and Turri John. 2010. Virtue epistemology. In The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. Spring 2010 edition: Edward N. Zalta ed.
  25. Harding, Sandra. 1991. Whose science? Whose knowledge? Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Harding, Sandra. 1993. Rethinking standpoint epistemology: “What is strong objectivity”? In Feminist epistemologies, ed. Linda Alcoff and Elizabeth Potter, 49–82. New York/London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  27. Harding, Sandra (ed.). 2004. The feminist standpoint theory reader. New York/London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Hooks, Bell. 1984. Feminist theory: From margin to center. Boston: South End Press.Google Scholar
  29. Hubbard, Ruth. 1990. The politics of women’s biology. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Jones, Karen. 2002. The politics of credibility. In A mind of one’s own: Feminist essays on reason and objectivity, 2nd ed, ed. Louise Antony and Charlotte Witt, 154–176. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  31. Keller, Evelyn Fox. 1984. Reflections on gender and science. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Lehrer, Keith. 2006. Testimony and trustworthiness. In The epistemology of testimony, ed. Jennifer Lackey and Ernest Sosa, 145–159. Oxford: Clarendon.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lewis, David. 1979. Scorekeeping in a language game. Journal of Philosophical Logic 8: 339–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lewontin, Richard C., Steven Rose, and Leon J. Kamin (eds.). 1984. Not in our genes. New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
  35. Lloyd, Genevieve. 1984. The man of reason. London: Methuen.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Longino, Helen. 1989. Can there be a feminist science? In Feminism & science, ed. Nancy Tuana, 45–57. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Longino, Helen. 1990. Science as social knowledge. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Longino, Helen. 2002. The fate of knowledge. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Longino, Helen, and Doell Ruth. 1983. Body, bias and behavior: A comparative analysis of reasoning in two areas of biological science. Signs 9: 206–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mackenzie, Catriona, and Natalie Stoljar (eds.). 2000. Relational autonomy: Feminist perspectives on autonomy, agency, and the social self. New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Martin, Emily. 1991. The egg and the sperm: How science has constructed a romance based on stereotypical male-female roles. Signs 16(3): 485–581.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Meyers, Diana T. (ed.). 1997. Feminists rethink the self. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  43. Montmarquet, James. 1993. Epistemic virtue and doxastic responsibility. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  44. Moody-Adams, Michelle. 1998. Self/other. In A companion to feminist philosophy, ed. Alison Jaggar and Iris Marion Young, 255–262. Malden/London: Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar
  45. Nelson, Lynn. 1993. Epistemological communities. In Feminist epistemologies, ed. Linda Alcoff and Elizabeth Potter, 121–159. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  46. Paludi, Michelle A., and Lisa A. Strayer. 1985. What’s in an author’s name? Differential evaluations of performance as a function of author’s name. Sex Roles 12: 353–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Plumwood, Val. 1993. Feminism and the mastery of nature. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  48. Potter, Elizabeth. 1993. Gender and epistemic negotiation. In Feminist epistemologies, ed. Linda Alcoff and Elizabeth Potter, 161–186. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  49. Rooney, Phyllis. 1991. Gendered reason: Sex metaphor and conceptions of reason. Hypatia 6(2): 77–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Ruetsche, Laura. 2004. Virtue and contingent history: Possibilities for feminist epistemology. Hypatia 19(1): 73–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Sosa, Ernest. 1991. Knowledge in perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Spanier, Bonnie. 1995. Im/partial science: Gender ideology in molecular biology. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Williams, Michael. 1996. Unnatural doubts. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Williams, Bernard. 2002. Truth and truthfulness. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Wylie, Alison. 2004. Why standpoint matters. In The feminist standpoint theory reader, ed. Sandra Harding, 339–351. New York/London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  56. Wylie, Alison, Janet R. Jakobsen, and Gisela Fosado. 2007. Women, work and the academy. The Barnard Center for Research on Women, New Feminist Solutions 2.
  57. Zagzebski, Linda. 1996. Virtues of the mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyGuilford CollegeGreensboroUSA

Personalised recommendations