Feminist Versus General Philosophy of Science

  • Raffaella CampanerEmail author
  • Maria Carla Galavotti
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science book series (BSPS, volume 317)


This paper tackles some core issues feminist epistemologists have focused on, stressing on the one hand possible convergence with some current trends in the philosophy of science, and on the other the peculiar contribution of feminist philosophy of science to the general development of the discipline. The paper is divided into three sections. The first section argues that a “bottom-up” approach to the philosophy of science offers a promising background in which to meet the challenge posed by feminist epistemologists. The second section considers the influence of feminist stances in three specific fields: the life sciences, chemistry, and criminology. Feminist discourse has recently had a different impact on these fields both with regard to the objects and to the methods of investigation. The third section dwells upon whether and to what extent research lines emerging from feminist studies can influence the agenda of philosophy of science in general.


Feminism Contextual empiricism Bottom-up epistemology Pluralism Social constructivism 


  1. Alcoff, L., & Potter, E. (1993). Introduction: When feminisms intersect epistemology. In L. Alcoff & E. Potter (Eds.), Feminist epistemologies (pp. 1–14). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, E. (2011). Feminist epistemology and philosophy of science. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. Accessed January 15, 2015.
  3. Barad, K. (1996). Meeting the universe halfway: Realism and social constructivism without contradiction. In L. H. Nelson & J. Nelson (Eds.), Feminism, science, and the philosophy of science (pp. 161–194). Dordrecht: Kluwer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Britton, D. M. (2000). Feminism and criminology: Engendering the outlaw. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 571, 57–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Broidy, L., & Agnew, R. (1997). Gender and crime: A general strain theory perspective. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 34, 275–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Burgess-Proctor, A. (2006). Intersections of race, class, gender, and crime: Future directions for feminist criminology. Feminist Criminology, 1, 27–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Campaner, R., & Galavotti, M. C. (2007). Plurality in causality. In P. Machamer & G. Wolters (Eds.), Thinking about causes. From Greek philosophy to modern physics (pp. 178–199). Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.Google Scholar
  8. Campaner, R., & Galavotti, M. C. (2012). Evidence and the assessment of causal relations in the health sciences. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 26, 27–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cellucci, C. (2011). Classifying and justifying inference rules. In C. Cellucci, E. Grosholz, & E. Ippoliti (Eds.), Logic and knowledge (pp. 123–148). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.Google Scholar
  10. Cellucci, C. (2013). Philosophy of mathematics: Making a fresh start. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 44, 32–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Craver, C., & Darden, L. (2013). In search of mechanisms: Discoveries across the life sciences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Darden, L. (2008). Thinking again about mechanisms. Philosophy of Science, 75, 958–969.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fausto-Sterling, A. (2000). Sexing the body: Gender politics and the construction of sexuality. New York: Basic Books Inc.Google Scholar
  14. Galavotti, M. C. (2006). For an epistemology ‘from within’. An introduction to Suppes’ work. Epistemologia, 29, 215–224.Google Scholar
  15. Galavotti, M. C. (2008). Causal pluralism and context. In M. C. Galavotti, R. Scazzieri, & P. Suppes (Eds.), Reasoning, rationality and probability (pp. 233–252). Stanford: CSLI.Google Scholar
  16. Galavotti, M. C. (2014). For a bottom-up approach to the philosophy of science. In C. Cozzo & E. Ippoliti (Eds.), From a heuristic point of view. Essays in honor of Carlo Cellucci (pp. 199–214). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.Google Scholar
  17. Giere, R. N. (2003). A new program for philosophy of science? Philosophy of Science, 70, 15–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Haack, S. (1992). Science “from a feminist perspective”. Philosophy, 67, 5–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hagan, J. (1988). Structural criminology. Oxford: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  20. Hagan, J. (1994). Crime and disrepute. Thousand Oaks: Pine Forge Press.Google Scholar
  21. Haraway, D. (1986). Primatology is politics by other means. In R. Bleier (Ed.), Feminist approaches to science (pp. 77–118). Elmsford, NY: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  22. Haraway, D. (1988). Situated knowledges: The science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective. Feminist Studies, 14, 575–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Harding, S. (1993). Rethinking standpoint epistemology: What is ‘strong objectivity’? In L. Alcoff & E. Potter (Eds.), Feminist epistemologies (pp. 49–82). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  24. Hennig, C. (2009). A constructivist view of the statistical quantification of evidence. Constructivist Foundations, 5, 39–54.Google Scholar
  25. Hennig, C. (2010). Mathematical models and reality: A constructivist perspective. Foundations of Science, 15, 29–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Keller, E. (1983). A feeling for the organism. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman and Co.Google Scholar
  27. Kellert, S., Longino, H., & Waters, K. (Eds.). (2006). Scientific pluralism. Minneapolis-London: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  28. Kourany, J. A. (2003). A philosophy of science for the twenty-first century. Philosophy of Science, 70, 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kovács, A. (2012a). Gender in the substance of chemistry, Part 1: The ideal gas. HYLE—International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry, 18(2), 95–120.Google Scholar
  30. Kovács, A. (2012b). Gender in the substance of chemistry, Part 2: An agenda for theory. HYLE—International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry, 18(2), 121–143.Google Scholar
  31. Lloyd, E. (1996). Pre-theoretical assumptions in evolutionary explanations of female sexuality. In E. Fox Keller & H. Longino (Eds.), Feminism and science (pp. 91–102). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Longino, H. (1990). Science as social knowledge. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Longino, H. (2002). The fate of knowledge. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Longino, H. (2006). Philosophy of science after the social turn. In M. C. Galavotti (Ed.), Cambridge and Vienna. Frank P. Ramsey and the Vienna Circle (pp. 167–177). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  35. Longino, H. (2008). Values, heuristics, and the politics of knowledge. In D. Howard, J. Kourany, & M. Carrier (Eds.), The challenge of the social and the pressure of practice (pp. 68–86). Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.Google Scholar
  36. Martin, E. (1991). The egg and the sperm. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 16, 485–501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Potochnik, A. (2012). Feminist implications of model-based science. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 43, 383–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Potochnik, A. (Ed.). (2014). Socially engaged philosophy of science. Erkenntnis, 79, Supplement 5, 901–1018.Google Scholar
  39. Potter, E. (2001). Gender and Boyle’s law of gases. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Potter, E. (2006). Feminism and philosophy of science. An introduction. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  41. Richardson, S. S. (2010). Feminist philosophy of science: History, contributions, and challenges. Synthese, 177, 337–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Romizi, D. (2012). The Vienna Circle’s “scientific world conception”: Philosophy of science in the political arena. HOPOS, 2, 205–242.Google Scholar
  43. Schaffner, K. (1993). Discovery and explanation in biology and medicine. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  44. Shulman, B. (1996). What if we change our axioms? A feminist inquiry into the foundations of mathematics. Configurations, 3, 427–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sperling, S. (1991). Baboons with briefcases: Feminism, functionalism and sociobiology in the evolution of primate gender. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 17, 1–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Suppe, F. (2000). Understanding scientific theories: An assessment of developments, 1969–1998. In D. A. Howard (Ed.), PSA 1998. Philosophy of Science (pp. S102–S115). Supplement to Vol. 67(3).Google Scholar
  47. Suppes, P. (1962). Models of data. In E. Nagel, P. Suppes, & A. Tarski (Eds.), Logic, methodology and philosophy of science (pp. 252–261). Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Suppes, P. (1970). A probabilistic theory of causality. Amsterdam: North-Holland.Google Scholar
  49. Suppes, P. (1981). The plurality of science. In P. D. Asquith, & I. Hacking, (Eds.), PSA 1978, Vol. II (pp. 3–16). East Lansing: Philosophy of Science Association. Reprinted in Suppes (1993), pp. 41–54.Google Scholar
  50. Suppes, P. (1984). Probabilistic metaphysics. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  51. Suppes, P. (1990). On deriving models in the social sciences. Journal of Mathematical and Computer Modelling, 14, 21–28. Reprinted in Suppes (1993), pp. 435–450.Google Scholar
  52. Suppes, P. (1993). Models and methods in the philosophy of science: Selected essays. Dordrecht-Boston: Kluwer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Suppes, P. (2002). Representation and invariance of scientific structures. Stanford: CSLI Publications.Google Scholar
  54. Uebel, T. (2005). Political philosophy of science in logical empiricism: The left Vienna Circle. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Part A, 36, 754–773.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. van Fraassen, B. (1980). The scientific image. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Van Regenmortel, M. H. V., & Hull, D. L. (Eds.). (2002). Promises and limits of reductionism in the biomedical sciences. Chichester: Wiley and Sons.Google Scholar
  57. VV.AA. (2013). Forum: Pluralism? Reflections on women in the history of philosophy of science. HOPOS, 3, 135–150.Google Scholar
  58. Williams, F. P. III, , & McShane, M. (2004). Criminological theory (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  59. Wimsatt, W. (1974). Complexity and organization. In K. Schaffner & R. S. Cohen (Eds.), PSA-1972, Boston studies in the philosophy of science (pp. 67–86). Dordrecht: Reidel.Google Scholar
  60. Wimsatt, W. (1994). The ontology of complex systems: Levels of organization, perspectives, and causal thickets. Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 20, 207–274.Google Scholar
  61. Wimsatt, W. (2006). Reductionism and its heuristics: Making methodological reductionism honest. Synthèse, 151, 445–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BolognaBolognaItaly

Personalised recommendations