Anderson, Elizabeth. Feminist Epistemology and Philosophy of Science
Abstract: Feminist epistemology and philosophy of science studies the ways in which gender does and ought to influence our conceptions of knowledge, the knowing subject, and practices of inquiry and justification. It identifies ways in which dominant conceptions and practices of knowledge attribution, acquisition, and justification systematically disadvantage women and other subordinated groups, and strives to reform these conceptions and practices so that they serve the interests of these groups. Various practitioners of feminist epistemology and philosophy of science argue that dominant knowledge practices disadvantage women by (1) excluding them from inquiry, (2) denying them epistemic authority, (3) denigrating their ‘feminine’ cognitive styles and modes of knowledge, (4) producing theories of women that represent them as inferior, deviant, or significant only in the ways they serve male interests, (5) producing theories of social phenomena that render women’s activities and interests, or gendered power relations, invisible, and (6) producing knowledge (science and technology) that is not useful for people in subordinate positions, or that reinforces gender and other social hierarchies. Feminist epistemologists trace these failures to flawed conceptions of knowledge, knowers, objectivity, and scientific methodology. They offer diverse accounts of how to overcome these failures. They also aim to (1) explain why the entry of women and feminist scholars into different academic disciplines, especially in biology and the social sciences, has generated new questions, theories, and methods, (2) show how gender and feminist values and perspectives have played a causal role in these transformations, (3) promote theories that aid egalitarian and liberation movements, and (4) defend these developments as cognitive, not just social, advances.
Comment: A very detailed primer on feminist epistemology and philosophy of science. Covers a wide range of topics and issues, its length is such that it would probably be best to assign specific sections that are of interest rather than reading the whole thing. Useful as a preliminary introduction to the topics covered, and also offers a good summary of objections to the views presented.
Longino, Helen. The Social dimensions of scientific knowledge
Summary: Attention to the social dimensions of scientific knowledge is a relatively recent focus of philosophers of science. While some earlier philosophers made contributions to the topic that are still of relevance today, modern interest was stimulated by historians and sociologists of science such as Thomas Kuhn and the growing role played by the sciences in society and, by extension, in the lives of its citizens. There are two main vectors of interest: internal relations within scientific communities, and relations between science and society. This article covers literature in both categories. It starts with work that functions as historical backdrop to current work. As a subfield within philosophy of science, this area is too recent to have dedicated journals and has only a few anthologies. Nevertheless, there are resources in both categories. The remainder of the article lists work in specific subareas.
Comment: A good introduction to the study of social dimensions of scientific knowledge. Recommended for anyone interested in the social direction of science. The paper is easy to comprehend so could be read by both postgraduates and undergraduates.