Feminist Epistemology (2022)

Feminist Epistemology

Topics in Feminist Philosophy: Feminist Epistemology

Philosophy 486/Women's Studies 486

University of Michigan

Fall 1997


Prof. Sally Haslanger
Office: 2203 Angell Hall
Office hours: W 10:30-12 and by appointment (in 2203 AH).
Phone: 764-6882, 764-6285 (for messages).
Email: shaslang@umich.edu
Course URL: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~shaslang/486.html

DESCRIPTION:

The topic for this term is feminist epistemology and philosophy of science. Questions we will consider include: Is rationality gendered? Are scientific conceptions of objectivity "masculine"? What could it mean to make such claims, and how could they be justified? What should a feminist conception of knowledge look like? In addressing these questions we'll explore the numerous ways that gender, gender roles, and gender identity influence the construction of knowledge and the representation of objectivity. We will investigate competing views about knowledge construction --specifically, empiricism, standpoint theory, and postmodernism-- by considering, among other things, how they have informed empirical research in the social sciences, biology, and medicine. Classes will be conducted as interactive lecture/discussions.

CLASS MEETS: T-Th 1-2:30, 2271 Angell Hall

REQUIREMENTS:

Three (of 4) short homework assignments 15%
Two 6-8 page papers 50% (25% each)
Final exam 30%
Class participation, improvement, etc. 5%
Graduate students may submit a term paper in lieu of the final if a proposal is approved by the instructor.

PREREQUISITES: Students should have a background (at least 2 courses) in either philosophy or women's studies.

TEXTS:

Sandra Harding, The Science Question in Feminism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press, 1986). (SQF)
Helen Longino, Science as Social Knowledge (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1990. (SSK)
Evelyn Fox Keller and Helen Longino, eds., Feminism and Science, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996). (F&S)

Texts are available at Shaman Drum. A coursepack of essays will also be available at Michigan Document Service. (MDS is located on S. University above Ulrich's Electronics. Phone: 662-4530.) Assignments marked with a '*' will be in the coursepack. Recommended readings will be available through the course web page and on electronic reserves at the Undergraduate Library (if they are not available in the texts. The reserve room URL is:
http://www.lib.umich.edu/libhome/Reserves

COURSE SCHEDULE

I. INTRODUCTION TO FEMINIST EPISTEMOLOGY AND FEMINIST PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE

Sept. 9

Sandra Harding, The Science Question in Feminism, Ch. 1-3.

II. FEMINIST EMPIRICISM/FEMINIST NATURALISM: Feminist Science v. Bad Science

Sept. 11

Helen Longino, Science as Social Knowledge (SSK), Ch. 1.

* Marilyn Waring, selections from If Women Counted (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1990) pp. 74-91, 103-114, 176-178, 224-249.

(Video) Epistemology - Feminism

Dorothy Smith, "Women's Perspective as a Radical Critique of Sociology" in F&S, pp. 17-26.

Sept. 16

* Lynn H. Nelson, Who Knows (Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press, 1990), pp. 20-29.

* Elizabeth Anderson, "Feminist Epistemology: An Interpretation and a Defense" Hypatia 10: 3 (Summer 1995) pp. 50-84.

Sept. 18

* Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, "Empathy, Polyandry, and the Myth of the Coy Female" in Ruth Bleier, ed., Feminist Approaches to Science (New York: Pergamon, 1986), pp. 119-146.

Elisabeth Lloyd, "Pre-Theoretical Assumptions in Evolutionary Explanations of Female Sexuality," in F&S.

Sept. 23

* Louise Antony, "Quine as Feminist: The Radical Import of Naturalized Epistemology," in A Mind of One's Own, ed., L. Antony and C. Witt (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1993), pp. 185-226.

III. USES AND ABUSES OF ANALOGY AND METAPHOR

Sept. 25

Genevieve Lloyd, "Reason, Science, and the Domination of Matter" (F&S)

* Phyllis Rooney, "Gendered Reason: Sex Metaphor and Conceptions of Reason" Hypatia 6:2 (Summer 1991) pp. 77-103.

FIRST HOMEWORK DUE

Sept. 30

* Evelyn Fox Keller, "The Force of the Pacemaker Concept in Theories of Aggregation in Cellular Slime Mold" in Reflections on Gender and Science (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1985) pp. 150-157.

Evelyn Fox Keller, "Language and Ideology in Evolutionary Theory: Reading Cultural Norms into Natural Law," in F&S.

Nancy L. Stepan, "Race and Gender: The Role of Analogy in Science," in F&S.

IV. IS OBJECTIVITY MASCULINE?

Oct. 2

* Evelyn Fox Keller "Gender and Science," and "Dynamic Objectivity" in Reflections on Gender and Science (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1985) pp. 75-94, 115-126.

Helen Longino SSK, pp. 204-209.

(Video) Feminist Epistemology

Oct. 7

* Sally Haslanger, "On Being Objective and Being Objectified" in A Mind of One's Own, ed., L. Antony and C. Witt (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1993), pp. 85-126.

recommended:

J. Dupré, "Conversations with Apes: Reflections on the Scientific Study of Language, " in J. Hyman, ed., Investigating Psychology: Sciences of the Mind After Wittgenstein (NY: Routledge, 1991), pp. 95-116.

V. Hearne, "A Walk With Washoe," in Adam's Task: Calling Animals by Name (NY: Vintage Books, 1982), pp. 18-41.

FIRST PAPER TOPICS DISTRIBUTED.

V. FEMINIST STANDPOINT THEORY

Oct. 9

Sandra Harding, SQF, Ch. 6.

* Nancy Hartsock, "The Feminist Standpoint: Developing the Ground for a Specifically Feminist Historical Materialism" in Sandra Harding, ed., Feminism and Methodology (Bloomington, IN: Indiana Univ. Press, 1987), pp. 157-180.

SECOND HOMEWORK DUE.

Oct. 14

* Catharine MacKinnon, "Consciousness Raising," Toward a Feminist Theory of the State (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1989), Ch. 5.

* Terri Elliott, "Making Strange What Had Appeared Familiar" The Monist 77:4 (1994), pp. 424-433.

recommended:

Maria Lugones and Elizabeth Spelman, "Have We Got A Theory For You! Feminist Theory and the Demand for 'The Woman's Voice'," in Marilyn Pearsall, ed., Women and Values (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1986), pp. 19-31.

Oct. 16

* Catharine MacKinnon, "Method and Politics," Toward a Feminist Theory of the State (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1989), Ch. 6.

* Sally Haslanger "Ontology and Social Construction" Philosophical Topics 23:2 (Fall 1995), pp. 95-126.

Oct. 21

* Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought, (New York: Routledge, 1991), Ch. 10, 6.

FIRST PAPER DUE.

(Video) WCQR2021_14_Feminist Phenomenology: Building a Case for Using Feminist Epistemology for Knowledge...

Oct. 23

* Bar-Ami Bar On, "Marginality and Epistemic Privilege," in Linda Alcoff and Elizabeth Potter, eds., Feminist Epistemologies (New York: Routledge, 1993) pp. 83-100.

* Charles Mills, "Alternative Epistemologies," Social Theory and Practice 14 (1988), pp. 237-263.

Oct. 28

* Donna Haraway, "The Bio-politics of a Multicultural Field," in Primate Visions (New York: Routledge, 1989), pp. 244-275.

VI. FEMINIST POSTMODERNISM

Oct. 30

Donna Haraway, "Situated Knowledges" in F&S.

THIRD HOMEWORK DUE.

recommended: Sandra Harding SQF, Ch. 7.

Nov. 4

* Donna Haraway, "Women's Place is In the Jungle," and "Sarah Blaffer Hrdy: Investment Strategies for the Evolving Portfolio of Primate Females" in Primate Visions, pp. 279-303, 349-367.

Nov. 6

* Rachel T. Hare-Mustin and Jeanne Maracek, "Gender and the Meaning of Difference: Postmodernism and Psychology," in Anne Herrmann and Abigail Stewart, eds., Theorizing Feminism (Boulder, CO: Westview 1994), pp. 49-76.

Nov. 11

* Anne Seller, "Should the Feminist Philosopher Stay at Home?" in Kathleen Lennon and Margaret Whitford, eds., Knowing the Difference (New York: Routledge, 1994), pp. 230-248.

* Oshadi Mangena, "Against Fragmentation," in Kathleen Lennon and Margaret Whitford, eds., Knowing the Difference (New York: Routledge, 1994), pp. 275-282.

recommended:

* Susan Bordo, "Feminism, Postmodernism, and Gender Skepticism," in Anne Herrmann and Abigail Stewart, eds., Theorizing Feminism (Boulder, CO: Westview 1994), pp. 458-481.

VII. FEMINIST EMPIRICISM (AGAIN): Rethinking Scientific Ideals

Nov. 13

* Elisabeth Lloyd, "Feminism as Method: What Scientists Get That Philosophers Don't" Philosophical Topics 23:2 (Fall 1995), pp. 189-220.

(Video) Epistemic Values in Feature Importance Methods: Lessons From Feminist Epistemology

SECOND PAPER TOPICS DISTRIBUTED.

Nov. 18

Helen Longino, SSK, Ch. 4-5.

FOURTH HOMEWORK DUE.

Nov. 20

Helen Longino, SSK, Ch. 8-10.

Nov. 25

* Louise Antony, "Sisters, Please, I'd Rather Do It Myself," Philosophical Topics 23:2 (Fall 1995), pp. 59-94.

Nov. 27

Thanksgiving break

VIII. CRITIQUES OF FEMINIST EPISTEMOLOGY

Dec. 2

* P. Gross and N. Levitt, Higher Supersistition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science, (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1994), 132-48

* Elisabeth Lloyd, "Science and Anti-Science: Objectivity and Its Real Enemies," in L.Nelson and J. Nelson, ed., Feminism, Science and the Philosophy of Science (Kluwer, 1996), pp. 217-259.

Dec. 4

* Susan Haack, "Knowledge and Propaganda: Reflections of an Old Feminist," Partisan Review 60 (1993): 556-565.

* Harriet Baber, "The Market For Feminist Epistemology," The Monist 77:4 (1994): 397-423.

* Elizabeth Anderson, "Knowledge, Human Interests, and Objectivity in Feminist Epistemology,"Philosophical Topics 23:2 (Fall 1995), pp. 27-58.

SECOND PAPER DUE.

Dec. 9

Final class

Thursday, December 18, 4-6pm: FINAL EXAM

(Video) Feminist epistemology

FAQs

Feminist Epistemology? ›

Feminist epistemology has often been understood as the study of feminine “ways of knowing.” But feminist epistemology is better understood as the branch of naturalized, social epistemology that studies the various influences of norms and conceptions of gender and gendered interests and experiences on the production of ...

What do you mean by feminist epistemology? ›

Feminist epistemology studies how gender influences our understanding of knowledge, justification and theory of knowledge; it describes how knowledge and justification disadvantage women.

What is an example of feminist epistemology? ›

For example, the ethics of care represents moral problems in terms of symbolically feminine values—values culturally associated with women's gender roles (Gilligan 1982). It is a symbolically gynocentric perspective, even if men also adopt it. Feminist epistemology raises numerous questions about these phenomena.

Why is feminist epistemology important? ›

Feminist epistemology compels us to critically examine the edifice of epistemic theorizing from the viewpoint of the subjugated position; thus the claims of standpoint theory will be addressed in order to understand the interconnected relationship between the social and political marginalization of women, and other ...

When did feminist epistemology start? ›

Feminist standpoint epistemology initially developed in the social sciences, primarily in work by Nancy Hartsock (1998) in political science and by Dorothy Smith in sociology.

What is feminist epistemology PDF? ›

An adequate feminist. epistemology must explain how research projects with such moral and political commitments can produce. knowledge that meets such epistemic standards as empirical adequacy and fruitfulness.

What are biggest issues in feminism? ›

Six women's issues explained with emojis
  • 1) Violence against women and girls. ...
  • 2) Gender pay gap. ...
  • 3) Digital gender divide. ...
  • 4) Informal work and instability. ...
  • 5) Period poverty and stigma. ...
  • 6) Underrepresentation as leaders in health.
Jul 17, 2020

What is the meaning of epistemology in philosophy? ›

Epistemology is the theory of knowledge. It is concerned with the mind's relation to reality. What is it for this relation to be one of knowledge? Do we know things? And if we do, how and when do we know things?

Who created feminist standpoint theory? ›

The American feminist theorist Sandra Harding coined the term standpoint theory to categorize epistemologies that emphasize women's knowledge.

Why are many feminist epistemologists suspicious of the concept of pure objectivity? ›

What is one reason feminist epistemologists are suspicious of the concept of the ideal knower as dispassionate, objective, and purely rational? Even supposedly objective scientists are influenced by their own prejudices and biases. You just studied 20 terms!

What is the primary aim of feminist movement? ›

The goal of feminism is to challenge the systemic inequalities women face on a daily basis. Contrary to popular belief feminism has nothing to do with belittling men, in fact feminism does not support sexism against either gender. Feminism works towards equality, not female superiority.

Is feminism an ontology? ›

As the previous section demonstrates, feminism shares broadly an intersubjective ontology, suggesting that the gendered attributes of states (and their leaders, and their citizens) are not given or fixed, but are constructed and reconstructed based on gendered power relations.

What is naturalized feminist epistemology? ›

Naturalized epistemology considers inquirers in their social relations as systems of belief-formation processes, and theoretical inquiry as a social practice that uses these processes to generate new beliefs.

Is feminism positivist or Interpretivist? ›

Similar to constructivism, feminism includes a wide variety of positivist and interpretive theories. The interpretive side of the approach often analyzes the constructions of gendered binaries that hierarchically separate stereotypes of what “women” and “men” ought to be (J. A. Tickner & Sjoberg, 2013, p. 206).

What are some of the basic research questions of feminist theory? ›

What are some of the basic research questions of feminist theory? How can we achieve equality for women? How are gender role expectations created, and how are they passed down, generation to generation? How might perceptions of gender lead to discrimination?

Which study explores the dialogic character of the Relationality of gender society and environment? ›

''Ecogender studies,'' then, explores the dialogic character of the relationality of gender, society, and environment—which unavoidably leads to a focus on the patterns of oppression that constrain these interactions.

What are the 4 types of feminism? ›

Feminism is a political movement; it exists to rectify sexual inequalities, although strategies for social change vary enormously. There are four types of Feminism – Radical, Marxist, Liberal, and Difference.

What are the weaknesses of feminism? ›

Feminism is an ideology that aims to establish the equality of men and women in various areas of our daily life. This includes political, social as well as economic perspectives.
...
Top 10 Feminism Pros & Cons – Summary List.
Feminism ProsFeminism Cons
Women may be treated betterEven some women do not like feminism
9 more rows

Who is the biggest feminist? ›

32 Icons Who've Changed the Course of Feminism
  1. 32 icons who've changed the course of feminism.
  2. Susan B. Anthony. ...
  3. Mary Wollstonecraft. ...
  4. Malala Yousafzai. ...
  5. Simone de Beauvoir. ...
  6. Gloria Steinem. ...
  7. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. ...
  8. Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
Feb 23, 2021

What are the 3 types of epistemology? ›

There are three main examples or conditions of epistemology: truth, belief and justification.

What are the 3 epistemological perspective? ›

ABSTRACT: Three epistemologies-pragmatism, positivism, and her- meneutics-are sociologically explained as the ideologies of different groups doing various kinds of scientific work. These ideologies are shaped by the material conditions and social structures of scientific work in differ- ent areas of the sciences.

What are the four Epistemologies? ›

Epistemologists study the nature, origin, and scope of knowledge, epistemic justification, the rationality of belief, and various related issues.

What is an example of standpoint theory? ›

Standpoint Theory example

Take, for example, a group of Hispanic women. These women's views may be similar in terms of racial backgrounds or gender characteristics, but if their socio-economic status is different, it is more likely that their views are not quite the same.

What is postmodern feminist theory? ›

Postmodern feminists seek to analyze any notions that have led to gender inequality in society. Postmodern feminists analyze these notions and attempt to promote equality of gender through critiquing logocentrism, supporting multiple discourses, deconstructing texts, and seeking to promote subjectivity.

What is the meaning of epistemology in philosophy? ›

Epistemology is the theory of knowledge. It is concerned with the mind's relation to reality. What is it for this relation to be one of knowledge? Do we know things? And if we do, how and when do we know things?

What do you mean feminism? ›

feminism, the belief in social, economic, and political equality of the sexes. Although largely originating in the West, feminism is manifested worldwide and is represented by various institutions committed to activity on behalf of women's rights and interests.

What is naturalized feminist epistemology? ›

Naturalized epistemology considers inquirers in their social relations as systems of belief-formation processes, and theoretical inquiry as a social practice that uses these processes to generate new beliefs.

Videos

1. Lecture on Feminist Epistemology by Professor Krishna Menon
(The Philosophy Project)
2. FEMINIST APPROACHES TO EPISTEMOLOGY
(Vidya-mitra)
3. Feminism and standpoint Epistemology
(Vidya-mitra)
4. "Research around feminist epistemology is being heavily criticised and open science should be aware"
(RIOT Science Club)
5. Week 4 Patricia Hill Collins Black Feminist Epistemology
(Soc Pol)
6. As regards the general perception of the union of feminist epistemology and naturalized...
(Experts' Global)

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