Inquiry seeks truths, or at least empirically adequate representations, but which truths any particular inquiry seeks depends on the uses to which those representations will be put, many of which are practical and derived from social interests.
The question of how to explain these persistent inequalities in the representation of women in the sciences has been the focus of intense controversy. Why is it that men and women so often have dramatically divergent understandings of what happened in their sexual encounters?
To realize these goals it is necessary to understand with accuracy, subtlety, and explanatory precision the nature and sources of oppression, and scientific inquiry is one of the most powerful tools available for doing this.
The interests that motivate their choice of questions, the assumptions that underpin the hypotheses they consider, and the reasons for adopting particular methods of inquiry and categories of description and analysis should be explicit.
When universal suffrage includes women Paxton notes that many of the key claims about the development of democracy—including a standard interpretation that identifies three waves of democracy—may need to be revised Paxton Kohlberg had assumed that the developmental stages manifest in these all-male samples could be generalized; girls were expected to conform to what he took to be a universal trajectory.
The Feminist Methods Debate While at times feminists have been skeptical about the capacity of conventional research methods to expose systematic bias, it is now generally agreed that a plurality of methods have been productive for achieving feminist goals.
Do mainstream philosophical conceptions of objectivity, knowledge, and reason reflect an androcentric perspective Bordo ; Code ; Flax ; Rooney ? The research Reskin summarizes converges on that reported by cognitive and social psychologists in suggesting that evaluation bias is most likely to arise when we make judgements under time pressure, when we lack contextual information about candidates and their credentials, when evaluation procedures are not transparent and we are not accountable for demonstrating that their outcomes are equitable.
Thus, a good philosophy of science must, like good science, achieve a balance among empirical success, predictive success and explanatory power and must, as a good epistemology of science, describe and explain how scientific knowledge is acquired.
On a normative level, it generates methodological principles for engaging in nonsexist science. The first of these commitments is captured by guidelines that specify the goals of feminist research; to do research as a feminist means to address questions that are relevant to women and, more generally, to those oppressed by gender-structured systems of inequality.
What has taken shape in the last two decades is, then, a fundamental reorientation in our understanding of the gendered nature of scientific institutions that both informs and is rooted in the critical perspectives brought to bear by feminists.
Biases that generate error in this way should be avoided, through better training of scientists or the adoption and enforcement of methodological principles and social practices such as peer review designed to check their influence.
To serve their critical aim, social theories must a represent the world in relation to the interests of the oppressed; b enable the oppressed to understand their problems; and c be usable by the oppressed to improve their condition. One could even repudiate them all, but still identify oneself as a man or a woman in terms of what one sees as distinct roles men and women ought to play in bringing about a just future one that may or may not include gender distinctions.
An interest, emotion, attitude, or value might be symbolically gendered even if men and women do not manifest it differently. This amounts to a recommendation that science would improve if it adopted certain biases. Sabin inbut it was not until that the French Academie elected Marguerite Perey, an assistant to Marie Curie, as a correspondent of the Academie Ramey ; Schiebinger2.
If the feminine ethics of care provides the epistemically privileged perspective on morality, then our access to moral knowledge is predicated on the continuation of existing gender relations, which produce this ethic. Nonetheless there are times when the more mainstream quantitative methods can provide powerful resources for making feminist arguments section Feminist Equity Critiques.
Conventional accounts typically invoke the talents, drive, and preferences of women. Here are a few epistemological questions raised by these phenomena.
Female children acquire their gender identity through identification with their mothers, and so are more comfortable with a blurring of boundaries between self and other.
The feminine cognitive style is said to be epistemically superior because it overcomes the dichotomy between the subject and object of knowing and because an ethic of care is superior to an ethic of domination.
These features of critical theory raise the possibility that claims of superiority for particular theories might be based more on pragmatic than epistemic virtues HardingHartsock While these methodologies are highly effective for isolating single factor causes when these are operative e.
First, much feminist science criticism consists in exposing the androcentric and sexist biases in scientific research, especially in theories about women, sexuality, and gender differences.
One question these facts raise for feminist epistemology is to what extent dominant models of the world, especially of the relation between minds and bodies, have seemed compelling because they conform to a male or masculine phenomenology Bordo ; Young Feminist science critics have identified multiple kinds of bias in research programs.
How might the social practices of science be organized so that variations in background beliefs of inquirers function as a resource rather than an obstacle to scientific success Longino ; Solomon ?Feminist epistemology is an examination of the subject matter of epistemology, i.e., the theory of knowledge, from a feminist standpoint.
Elizabeth Anderson describes feminist epistemology as being concerned with the way in which gender influences our concept of knowledge and "practices of inquiry.
Women, Jews, dissenters, beggars, (false) prophets, and the possessed-not necessarily mutually exclusive categories-will be subjects of our study. Our central concern will be the shaping of medieval societies through the tension between the. Although there are multiple branches of feminism, all focus on gender-consciousness, removing gender power imbalances, ending the subjugation of women and their marginalized status, empowering women, and challenging gender stereotypes (Angelique & Culley, ).
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Poststructuralism “rejects objectivity and the notions of an absolute truth and single reality,” and “knowledge is complicated, contradictory, and contingent to a certain social context and historical context” (Hesse Biber,p.
Feminists have a number of distinct interests in, and perspectives on, science. The tools of science have been a crucial resource for understanding the nature, impact, and prospects for changing gender-based forms of oppression; in this spirit, feminists actively draw on, and contribute to, the research programs of a wide range of sciences.Download