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Anderson, Elizabeth, , . Feminist Epistemology and Philosophy of Science
2015, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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Added by: Giada Fratantonio, Contributed by:

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.

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D. Mitchell, Sandra, , . Unsimple Truths: Science, Complexity and Policy
2009, The University of Chicago Press Chicago and London.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: In Unsimple Truths, Sandra Mitchell argues that the long-standing scientific and philosophical deference to reductive explanations founded on simple universal laws, linear causal models, and predict-and-act strategies fails to accommodate the kinds of knowledge that many contemporary sciences are providing about the world. She advocates, instead, for a new understanding that represents the rich, variegated, interdependent fabric of many levels and kinds of explanation that are integrated with one another to ground effective prediction and action. Mitchell draws from diverse fields including psychiatry, social insect biology, and studies of climate change to defend “integrative pluralism” – a theory of scientific practices that makes sense of how many natural and social sciences represent the multi-level, multi-component, dynamic structures they study. She explains how we must, in light of the now-acknowledged complexity and contingency of biological and social systems, revise how we conceptualize the world, how we investigate the world, and how we act in the world.

Comment: The first five chapters, dealing with scientific methodology and epistemology could serve for undergraduate courses in general philosophy of science. The last chapter dedicated to integrative pluralism, is more specialized and thus more suitable for postgraduate courses.

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Douglas, Heather, , . Inductive Risk and Values in Science
2000, Philosophy of Science 67(4): 559-579.
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Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Abstract: Although epistemic values have become widely accepted as part of scientific reasoning, non-epistemic values have been largely relegated to the “external” parts of science (the selection of hypotheses, restrictions on methodologies, and the use of scientific technologies). I argue that because of inductive risk, or the risk of error, non-epistemic values are required in science wherever non-epistemic consequences of error should be considered. I use examples from dioxin studies to illustrate how non-epistemic consequences of error can and should be considered in the internal stages of science: choice of methodology, characterization of data, and interpretation of results.

Comment: A good challenge to the “value-free” status of science, interrogating some of the assumptions about scientific methodology. Uses real-world examples effectively. Suitable for undergraduate teaching.

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Douglas, Heather, , . Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal
2009, University of Pittsburgh Press.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Patricia Rich

Publisher’s Note: The role of science in policymaking has gained unprecedented stature in the United States, raising questions about the place of science and scientific expertise in the democratic process. Some scientists have been given considerable epistemic authority in shaping policy on issues of great moral and cultural significance, and the politicizing of these issues has become highly contentious.

Since World War II, most philosophers of science have purported the concept that science should be “value-free.” In Science, Policy and the Value-Free Ideal, Heather E. Douglas argues that such an ideal is neither adequate nor desirable for science. She contends that the moral responsibilities of scientists require the consideration of values even at the heart of science. She lobbies for a new ideal in which values serve an essential function throughout scientific inquiry, but where the role values play is constrained at key points, thus protecting the integrity and objectivity of science. In this vein, Douglas outlines a system for the application of values to guide scientists through points of uncertainty fraught with moral valence.

Following a philosophical analysis of the historical background of science advising and the value-free ideal, Douglas defines how values should-and should not-function in science. She discusses the distinctive direct and indirect roles for values in reasoning, and outlines seven senses of objectivity, showing how each can be employed to determine the reliability of scientific claims. Douglas then uses these philosophical insights to clarify the distinction between junk science and sound science to be used in policymaking. In conclusion, she calls for greater openness on the values utilized in policymaking, and more public participation in the policymaking process, by suggesting various models for effective use of both the public and experts in key risk assessments.

Comment: Chapter 5, ‘The structure of values in science’, is a good introduction to the topic of the role of values in science, while defending a particular perspective. Basic familiarity with philosophy of science or science itself should be enough to understand and engage with it.

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Keller, Evelyn Fox, , Helen Longino. Feminism and Science
1996, Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Benny Goldberg, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Over the past fifteen years, a new dimension to the analysis of science has emerged. Feminist theory, combined with the insights of recent developments in the history, philosophy, and sociology of science, has raised a number of new and important questions about the content, practice, and traditional goals of science. Feminists have pointed to a bias in the choice and definition of problems with which scientists have concerned themselves, and in the actual design and interpretation of experiments, and have argued that modern science evolved out of a conceptual structuring of the world that incorporated particular and historically specific ideologies of gender. The seventeen outstanding articles in this volume reflect the diversity and strengths of feminist contributions to current thinking about science.

Comment: A wonderful edited collection of articles on feminist reactions to and interpretations of science. Perfect for introductory courses in feminist philosophy, feminist philosophy of science, and general philosophy of science.

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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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Longino, Helen, , . Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Values in Science: Rethinking the Dichotomy
1996, In Feminism, science, and the philosophy of science, Lynn Hankinson Nelson and Jack Nelson (Eds.) (pp. 39-58). Springer, Dordrecht.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Patricia Rich

Abstract: 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 gen- erality, 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 relation- ships (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 critic- ism 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.

Comment: This is a useful text discussing values in science, including clear definitions and examples, which also takes a feminist perspective on the application of values. It doesn’t require very special background knowledge, but general familiarity with philosophy of science or science itself would be useful. It could fit in a variety of philosophy of science courses.

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Longino, Helen, , . Science as Social Knowledge: Values and Objectivity in Scientific Inquiry
1990, Princeton University Press.
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Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Conventional wisdom has it that the sciences, properly pursued, constitute a pure, value-free method of obtaining knowledge about the natural world. In light of the social and normative dimensions of many scientific debates, Helen Longino finds that general accounts of scientific methodology cannot support this common belief. Focusing on the notion of evidence, the author argues that a methodology powerful enough to account for theories of any scope and depth is incapable of ruling out the influence of social and cultural values in the very structuring of knowledge. The objectivity of scientific inquiry can nevertheless be maintained, she proposes, by understanding scientific inquiry as a social rather than an individual process. Seeking to open a dialogue between methodologists and social critics of the sciences, Longino develops this concept of “contextual empiricism” in an analysis of research programs that have drawn criticism from feminists. Examining theories of human evolution and of prenatal hormonal determination of “gender-role” behavior, of sex differences in cognition, and of sexual orientation, the author shows how assumptions laden with social values affect the description, presentation, and interpretation of data. In particular, Longino argues that research on the hormonal basis of “sex-differentiated behavior” involves assumptions not only about gender relations but also about human action and agency. She concludes with a discussion of the relation between science, values, and ideology, based on the work of Habermas, Foucault, Keller, and Haraway.

Comment: Longino offers a way to accomodate critiques of science as being socially constructed with the claim that science is objective. This contextual empiricism is an interesting solution, and would provide a useful point of discussion in an exploration of these issues in a course that discusses scientific objectivity.

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Okruhlik, Kathleen, , . Gender and the Biological Sciences
1994, Canadian Journal of Philosophy 24(sup1): 21-42.
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Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Summary: Okhrulik offers a feminist critique of biology, a “real” science, to show that it is not just the “soft” social sciences that are affected by bias. She argues that preconceptions can interfere not only in cases of “bad science”, but even when the rules of scientific practice are followed. There is no safeguard against the effects of bias in the context of discovery. Even if theories are rigorously tested to remove bias, some theories might not even be generated and so would not get to the point of being counted as competitors in the testing stage. This is illustrated by a number of case studies. Okhrulik concludes that a diversity of viewpoints is crucial.

Comment: Presents a good case for why feminist critiques are relevant even to “harder” sciences, made more salient with easy-to-understand examples. Raises issues of theory-ladenness of observation and underdetermination of theory. A good introduction to reasons to doubt that science is completely “objective”.

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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.

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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