Years of Feminist Empiricism and Standpoint Theory: Where Are We Now?

Hypatia 25 (4):778-796 (2010)
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Abstract

Over the past twenty-five years, numerous articles in Hypatia have clarified, revised, and defended increasingly more nuanced views of both feminist empiricism and standpoint feminism. Feminist empiricists have argued that scientific knowledge is contextual and socially situated (Longino 1990; Nelson 1990; Anderson 1995), and standpoint feminists have begun to endorse virtues of theory choice that have been traditionally empiricist (Wylie 2003). In fact, it is unclear whether substantive differences remain. I demonstrate that current versions of feminist empiricism and standpoint feminism now have much in common but that key differences remain. Specifically, they make competing claims about what is required for increasing scientific objectivity. They disagree about 1) the kind of diversity within scientific communities that is epistemically beneficial and 2) the role that ethical and political values can play. In these two respects, feminist empiricists have much to gain from the resources provided by standpoint theory. As a result, the views would be best merged into “feminist standpoint empiricism.”

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