Helen Longino seeks to break the current deadlock in the ongoing wars between philosophers of science and sociologists of science--academic battles founded on disagreement about the role of social forces in constructing scientific knowledge. While many philosophers of science downplay social forces, claiming that scientific knowledge is best considered as a product of cognitive processes, sociologists tend to argue that numerous noncognitive factors influence what scientists learn, how they package it, and how readily it is accepted. Underlying this disagreement, however, (...) is a common assumption that social forces are a source of bias and irrationality. Longino challenges this assumption, arguing that social interaction actually assists us in securing firm, rationally based knowledge. This important insight allows her to develop a durable and novel account of scientific knowledge that integrates the social and cognitive. Longino begins with a detailed discussion of a wide range of contemporary thinkers who write on scientific knowledge, clarifying the philosophical points at issue. She then critically analyzes the dichotomous understanding of the rational and the social that characterizes both sides of the science studies stalemate and the social account that she sees as necessary for an epistemology of science that includes the full spectrum of cognitive processes. Throughout, her account is responsive both to the normative uses of the term knowledge and to the social conditions in which scientific knowledge is produced. Building on ideas first advanced in her influential book Science as Social Knowledge, Longino brings her account into dialogue with current work in social epistemology and science studies and shows how her critical social approach can help solve a variety of stubborn problems. While the book focuses on epistemological concerns related to the sociality of inquiry, Longino also takes up its implications for scientific pluralism. The social approach, she concludes, best allows us to retain a meaningful concept of knowledge in the face of theoretical plurality and uncertainty. (shrink)
In Studying Human Behavior, Helen E. Longino enters into the complexities of human behavioral research, a domain still dominated by the age-old debate of “nature versus nurture.” Rather than supporting one side or another or attempting..
Underdetermination arguments support the conclusion that no amount of empirical data can uniquely determine theory choice. The full content of a theory outreaches those elements of it (the observational elements) that can be shown to be true (or in agreement with actual observations).2 A number of strategies have been developed to minimize the threat such arguments pose to our aspirations to scientific knowledge. I want to focus on one such strategy: the invocation of additional criteria drawn from a pool of (...) cognitive or theoretical values, such as simplicity or generality, to bolster judgements about the worth of models, theories, and hypotheses. What is the status of such criteria? Larry Laudan, in Science and Values, argued that cognitive values could not be treated as self-validating, beyond justification, but are embedded in a three-way reticulational system containing theories, methods, and aims or values, which are involved in mutually supportive relationships (Laudan, 1984). My interest in this paper is not the purportedly self-validating nature of cognitive values, but their cognitive nature. Although Laudan rejects the idea that what he calls cognitive values are exempt from rational criticism and disagreement, he does seem to think that the reticulational system he identifies is independent of non-cognitive considerations. It is this cognitive/non-cognitive distinction that I wish to query in this paper. Let me begin by summarizing those of my own views about inquiry in which this worry about the distinction arises. (shrink)
Traits like simplicity and explanatory power have traditionally been treated as values internal to the sciences, constitutive rather than contextual. As such they are cognitive virtues. This essay contrasts a traditional set of such virtues with a set of alternative virtues drawn from feminist writings about the sciences. In certain theoretical contexts, the only reasons for preferring a traditional or an alternative virtue are socio-political. This undermines the notion that the traditional virtues can be considered purely cognitive.
Much work performed under the banner of social epistemology still centers the problems of the individual cognitive agent. AU distinguishes multiple senses of "social," some of which are more social than others, and argues that different senses are at work in various contributions to social epistemology. Drawing on work in history and philosophy of science and addressing the literature on testimony and disagreement in particular, this paper argues for a more thoroughgoing approach in social epistemology.
This paper explores a number of recent proposals regarding "feminist science" and rejects a content-based approach in favor of a process-based approach to characterizing feminist science. Philosophy of science can yield models of scientific reasoning that illuminate the interaction between cultural values and ideology and scientific inquiry. While we can use these models to expose masculine and other forms of bias, we can also use them to defend the introduction of assumptions grounded in feminist political values.
Scientific pluralism is an issue at the forefront of philosophy of science. This landmark work addresses the question, Can pluralism be advanced as a general, philosophical interpretation of science? Scientific Pluralism demonstrates the viability of the view that some phenomena require multiple accounts. Pluralists observe that scientists present various—sometimes even incompatible—models of the world and argue that this is due to the complexity of the world and representational limitations. Including investigations in biology, physics, economics, psychology, and mathematics, this work provides (...) an empirical basis for a consistent stance on pluralism and makes the case that it should change the ways that philosophers, historians, and social scientists analyze scientific knowledge. Contributors: John Bell, U of Western Ontario; Michael Dickson, U of South Carolina; Carla Fehr, Iowa State U; Ronald N. Giere, U of Minnesota; Geoffrey Hellman, U of Minnesota; Alan Richardson, U of British Columbia; C. Wade Savage, U of Minnesota; Esther-Mirjam Sent, U of Nijmegen. Stephen H. Kellert is professor of philosophy at Hamline University and a fellow of the Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science. Helen E. Longino is professor of philosophy at Stanford University. C. Kenneth Waters is associate professor of philosophy and director of the Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science. (shrink)
The proposal of anything like a feminist epistemology has, I think, two sources. Feminist scholars have demonstrated how the scientific cards have been stacked against women for centuries. Given that the sciences are taken as the epitome of knowledge and rationality in modern Western societies, the game looks desperate unless some ways of knowing different from those that have validated misogyny and gynephobia can be found. Can we know the world without hating ourselves? This is one of the questions at (...) the core of discussions of feminist epistemology. It has spinoffs, e.g., can we know the world in ways that will permit women as well as men to thrive? Can we know the world without hating any human group? and so on. Now, these questions might be answered in a way that does not require any rethinking of fundamental philosophical issues. Some philosophers might argue that sexism in the sciences from Aristotle to human sociobiology results from a masculinist blinding that impedes the normal workings of the human cognitive apparatus. Unblinded, that apparatus produces real knowledge rather than ideology. Or: that was then, this is now. This somewhat overestimates the progress made in the sciences in the last 20 years, but can be read as a promissory note. (shrink)
In Science, Truth, and Democracy, Philip Kitcher develops the notion of well-ordered science: scientific inquiry whose research agenda and applications are subject to public control guided by democratic deliberation. Kitcher's primary departure from his earlier views involves rejecting the idea that there is any single standard of scientific significance. The context-dependence of scientific significance opens up many normative issues to philosophical investigation and to resolution through democratic processes. Although some readers will feel Kitcher has not moved far enough from earlier (...) epistemological positions, the book does represent an important addition to literature on science, society, and values. (shrink)
The subject of this essay is the dependence of evidential relations on background beliefs and assumptions. In Part I, two ways in which the relation between evidence and hypothesis is dependent on such assumptions are discussed and it is shown how in the context of appropriately differing background beliefs what is identifiable as the same state of affairs can be taken as evidence for conflicting hypotheses. The dependence of evidential relations on background beliefs is illustrated by discussions of the Michelson-Morley (...) experiment and the discovery of oxygen. In Part II, Hempel's analysis of confirmation and the contrasting model of theory acceptance provided by philosophers such as Kuhn and Feyerabend are discussed. It is argued that both are inadequate (on different grounds) and the problems addressed by each are shown to be more satisfactorily approached by means of the analysis developed in Part I. In Part III, it is argued that if there are objective criteria for deciding between competing theories, these cannot be simply that one theory has greater evidential support than another. Finally, some further methodological questions arising from the analysis are mentioned. (shrink)
Summarizes author’s contextual empiricism and uses it to analyze the difference between neuro-endocrinological accounts of presumed behavioral sex differences and neuro-selectionist accounts. Contextual empiricism is a philosophical approach that both shows how feminist critique works in the sciences and makes a contribution to general philosophy of science.
Feminist scholars advocate the adoption of distinctive values in research. While this constitutes a coherent alternative to the more frequently cited cognitive or scientific values, they cannot be taken to supplant those more orthodox values. Instead, each set might better be understood as a local epistemology guiding research answerable to different cognitive goals. Feminist scholars advocate the adoption of distinctive values in research. While this constitutes a coherent alternative to the more frequently cited cognitive or scientific values, they cannot be (...) taken to supplant those more orthodox values. Instead, each set might better be understood as a local epistemology guiding research answerable to different cognitive goals. (shrink)
This paper draws on the author's work in social epistemology and on comparative studies of sciences of human behavior to draw attention to the importance of interaction. Drawing further on recent and contemporary research in biology, she argues that interaction ought to be considered a distinct ontological category, not reducible to properties of its participants.
This paper is a discussion of the nature of inferring and focusses on the relation between reasons for belief and causes of belief. Two standard approaches to the analysis of inference, the epistemological and the psychological, are identified and discussed. While both approaches incorporate insights concerning, inference, counterexamples show that neither provides by itself an adequate account. A third account is developed and recommended on the grounds that it encompasses the essential insights of the rejected analyses while being immune to (...) their counterexamples. On this account coming to believe for a reason is taken to be central to our concept of inferring, but a causal relation holds between taking something to be a reason and belief. (shrink)
This essay introduces the volume Scientific Pluralism (Volume 19 of Minnesota Studies in Philosophy of Science). Varieties of recent pluralisms are surveyed, the difference between monism and pluralism vis a vis the sciences is clarified, and the authors’ notion of scientific pluralism is advanced.
This essay surveys twenty-five years of feminist epistemology in the pages of Hypatia. Feminist contributions have addressed the affective dimensions of knowledge; the natures of justification, rationality, and the cognitive agent; and the nature of truth. They reflect thinking from both analytic and continental philosophical traditions and offer a rich tapestry of ideas from which to continue challenging tradition and forging analytical tools for the problems ahead.
James Tabery Helen Longino’s Studying Human Behavior is an overdue effort at a nonpartisan evaluation of the many scientific disciplines that study the nature and nurture of human behavior, arguing for the acceptance of the strengths and weaknesses of all approaches. After years of conflict, Longino makes the pluralist case for peaceful coexistence. Her analysis of the approaches raises the following question: how are we to understand the pluralistic relationship among the peacefully coexisting approaches? Longino is ironically rather unpluralistic about (...) her pluralism, forcing a choice between integrative pluralism and her preferred ineliminative pluralism. I hope to show that the analysis of approaches she offers actually accommodates a pluralism that is both integrative and ineliminative.Approaches to studying human behaviorPhilosophy of biology took shape as a discipline in the 1970s. This disciplinary formation over. (shrink)
It is conventional to treat instances of research where social values have played a role as “bad science.” This article discusses instances of research that meet standards of “good science”, but that are nevertheless inflected by social values and uses these examples to argue that values can enter into research without thereby disqualifying the scientific status of the research. Other categories are needed to accommodate this kind of research.
Practice-centric and theory-centric approaches in philosophy of science are described and contrasted. The contrast is developed through an examination of their different treatments of the underdetermination problem. The practice-centric approach is illustrated by a summary of comparative research on approaches in the biology of behavior. The practice-centric approach is defended against charges that it encourages skepticism regarding the sciences.
Biological research on aggression is increasingly consulted for possible answers to the social problems of crime and violence. This paper reviews some contrasting approaches to the biological understanding of behavior—behavioral genetic, social-environmental, physiological, developmental—as a prelude to arguing that approaches to aggression are beset by vagueness and imprecision in their definitions and disunity in their measurement strategies. This vagueness and disunity undermines attempts to compare and evaluate the different approaches empirically. Nevertheless, the definitions reveal commitments to particular metaphysical views concerning (...) behavior. Alternative understandings of aggression suggest even different research approaches than those most commonly found in the literature. (shrink)
Each of the three papers offers a different model for the role philosophers of science might play in consideration of the relations of science to society. These comments address common themes in the three papers, articulate further questions for each, and suggest some historical shifts that require different forms of philosophical engagement now than in the early part of the century.
Miriam Solomon's social empiricism is marked by emphasis on community level rationality in science and the refusal to impose a distinction between the epistemic and the non-epistemic character of factors ("decision vectors") that incline scientists for or against a theory. While she attempts to derive some norms from the analysis of cases, her insistent naturalism undermines her effort to articulate norms for the (appropriate) distribution of decision vectors.
This article reports on the third phase of a comparative epistemological, ontological, and social analysis of a variety of approaches to investigating human behavior. In focusing on the fate of scientific ideas once they leave the context in which they were developed, I hope not only to show that their communication for a broader audience imposes a shape on their interrelations different than they seem to have in the research context, but also to suggest that a study comparing different approaches (...) to the same phenomenon is more illuminating than one that focuses on a single approach. (shrink)
Feminist epistemology is both a paradox and a necessity. Epistemology is a highly general inquiry – into the meaning of knowledge claims and attributions, into conditions for the possibility of knowledge, into the nature of truth and justification, and so on. Feminism is a family of positions and inquiries characterized by some common sociopolitical interests centering on the abolition of sexual and gender inequality. What possible relation could there be between these two sets of activity? Furthermore, feminist inquiry results in (...) substantive claims and analyses of whose adequacy and correctness feminists hope to persuade nonfeminists as well as other feminists. How could such persuasion occur without some highly general and shared conceptions of knowledge and rationality to set the ground rules within which this persuasion will occur? How could this be anything but a general and uniformly applicable epistemology? A feminist epistemology is oxymoronic. On the other hand, feminist scholars have demonstrated the gender bias infusing most other academic disciplines – a gender bias that is expressed in particular claims and facilitated by disciplinary first principles. Women's experience is made invisible or distorted, as are gender relations. What reason have we for thinking philosophy and its subdisciplines might be immune? And how can feminists pursue philosophical inquiry without subjecting our own discipline and subdisciplines to the same kind of searching scrutiny to which other feminist scholars have subjected their disciplines? Indeed, since the traditional academic disciplines have rested on philosophical presuppositions that may be implicated in sexist or androcentric outcomes, it is imperative that we do so. Feminist epistemology is a necessity. (shrink)
Predictions about the health risks of low level radiation combine two sorts of measures. One estimates the amount and kinds of radiation released into the environment, and the other estimates the adverse health effects. A new field called health physics integrates and applies nuclear physics to cytology to supply both these estimates. It does so by first determining the kinds of effects different types of radiation produce in biological organisms, and second, by monitoring the extent of these effects produced by (...) given levels of exposure. This essay examines the interplay between evidential constraints and external, contextual interests and values in studying the biological hazards of radiation. By analyzing the debate over linear vs. quadratic dose response models, the essay focuses on problems of developing quantitative, rather than qualitative, estimates of the risks of increased cancer incidence in an exposed population. (shrink)
Rationality and reason are topics so fraught for feminists that any useful reflection on them requires some prior exploration of the difficulties they have caused. One of those difficulties for feminists and, I suspect, for others in the margins of modernity, is the rhetoric of reason – the ways reason is bandied about as a qualification differentially bestowed on different types of person. Rhetorically, it functions in different ways depending on whether it is being denied or affirmed. In this paper, (...) I want to explore these rhetorics of reason as they are considered in the work of two feminist philosophers. I shall draw on their work for some suggestions about how to think about rationality, and begin to use those suggestions to develop a constructive account that withstands the rhetorical temptations. (shrink)