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Harding, Sandra, , . Whose Science? Whose Knowledge?
1991, Ithaca: Cornell University Press
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Sandra Harding here develops further the themes first addressed in her widely influential book, The Science Question in Feminism, and conducts a compelling analysis of feminist theories on the philosophical problem of how we know what we know. Following a strong narrative line, Harding sets out her arguments in highly readable prose. In Part 1, she discusses issues that will interest anyone concerned with the social bases of scientific knowledge. In Part 2, she modifies some of her views and then pursues the many issues raised by the feminist position which holds that women’s social experience provides a unique vantage point for discovering masculine bias and and questioning conventional claims about nature and social life. In Part 3, Harding looks at the insights that people of color, male feminists, lesbians, and others can bring to these controversies, and concludes by outlining a feminist approach to science in which these insights are central. “Women and men cannot understand or explain the world we live in or the real choices we have,” she writes, “as long as the sciences describe and explain the world primarily from the perspectives of the lives of the dominant groups.” Harding’s is a richly informed, radical voice that boldly confronts issues of crucial importance to the future of many academic disciplines. Her book will amply reward readers looking to achieve a more fruitful understanding of the relations between feminism, science, and social life.

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Lloyd, Elisabeth A., , . The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution
2007, Hypatia 22 (3):218-222.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Carl Hoefer

Abstract: Why women evolved to have orgasms – when most of their primate relatives don’t – is a persistent mystery among evolutionary biologists. In pursuing this mystery, Elisabeth Lloyd arrives at another: How could anything as inadequate as the evolutionary explanations of the female orgasm have passed muster as science? A judicious and revealing look at all twenty evolutionary accounts of the trait of human female orgasm, Lloyd’s book is at the same time a case study of how certain biases steer science astray.
Over the past fifteen years, the effect of sexist or male-centered approaches to science has been hotly debated. Drawing especially on data from nonhuman primates and human sexology over eighty years, Lloyd shows what damage such bias does in the study of female orgasm. She also exposes a second pernicious form of bias that permeates the literature on female orgasms: a bias toward adaptationism. Here Lloyd’s critique comes alive, demonstrating how most of the evolutionary accounts either are in conflict with, or lack, certain types of evidence necessary to make their cases – how they simply assume that female orgasm must exist because it helped females in the past reproduce. As she weighs the evidence, Lloyd takes on nearly everyone who has written on the subject: evolutionists, animal behaviorists, and feminists alike. Her clearly and cogently written book is at once a convincing case study of bias in science and a sweeping summary and analysis of what is known about the evolution of the intriguing trait of female orgasm.

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Longino, Helen, , . Can there be a feminist science?
1987, Hypatia 2(3): 51-64.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by:

Abstract: 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.

Comment: An original work that introduces philosophy of science to feminism. Could serve as further reading for a course on both scientific methodology and social constructivism. It is an easy reading but because highly specialized. I would recommend it for postgraduate courses.

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Potochnik, Angela, , . Feminist implications of model-based science
2012, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 43 (2):383-389.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: Recent philosophy of science has witnessed a shift in focus, in that significantly more consideration is given to how scientists employ models. Attending to the role of models in scientific practice leads to new questions about the representational roles of models, the purpose of idealizations, why multiple models are used for the same phenomenon, and many more besides. In this paper, I suggest that these themes resonate with central topics in feminist epistemology, in particular prominent versions of feminist empiricism, and that model-based science and feminist epistemology each has crucial resources to offer the other’s project.

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