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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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Cavendish, Margaret, , . Observations upon experimental philosophy to which is added The description of a new blazing world / written by the thrice noble, illustrious, and excellent princesse, the Duchess of Newcastle.
2001, Edited by E. O'Neill. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy).
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Added by: Benjamin Goldberg, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Margaret Cavendish’s 1668 edition of Observations upon Experimental Philosophy, presented here in its first modern edition, holds a unique position in early modern philosophy. Cavendish rejects the Aristotelianism which was taught in the universities in the seventeenth century, and the picture of nature as a grand machine which was propounded by Hobbes, Descartes and members of the Royal Society of London, such as Boyle. She also rejects the views of nature which make reference to immaterial spirits. Instead she develops an original system of organicist materialism, and draws on the doctrines of ancient Stoicism to attack the tenets of seventeenth-century mechanical philosophy. Her treatise is a document of major importance in the history of women’s contributions to philosophy and science.

Comment: In this work, Cavendish argues against the experimental paradigm of the emerging Royal Society, contrasting their conception of passive, dead matter, with her own conception of vital materialism. This text will prove useful in conjunction with discussions of experiment and epistemology in early modern philosophy. Usefully paired with other philosophers like Boyle, Descartes, and Henry More, as well as scientists like William Harvey.

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Chakravartty, Anjan, , . Six degrees of speculation: metaphysics in empirical contexts
2007, B. Monton (ed.) Images of Empiricism: Essays on Science and Stances, with a Reply From Bas C. Van Fraassen. New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 183-208
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Matthew Watts

Abstract: This chapter argues that the distinction between empiricism and metaphysics is not as clear as van Fraassen would like to believe. Almost all inquiry is metaphysical to a degree, including van Fraassen’s stance empiricism. Van Fraassen does not make a strong case against metaphysics, since the argument against metaphysics has to happen at the level of meta-stances — the level where one decides which stance to endorse. The chapter maintains that utilizing van Fraassen’s own conception of rationality, metaphysicians are rational. Empiricists should not reject all metaphysics, but just the sort of metaphysics which goes well beyond the empirical contexts that most interest them.

Comment: This text is useful discussions pertaining to metaphysics and its useful for empiricists

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Douglas, Heather, , . Values in Social Science
2014, In: Philosophy of Social Science A New Introduction. Edited by Nancy Cartwright and Eleonora Montuschi
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Introduction: The social sciences have long had an inferiority complex. Because the social sciences emerged as distinct disciplines after the natural sciences, comparisons between the mature and successful natural sciences and the fledgling social sciences were quickly made. One of the primary concerns that arose was over the role of values in the social sciences. There were several reasons for this. First, the social sciences did not have the clear empirical successes that the natural sciences did in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to bolster confidence in their reliability. Some postulated that an undue influence of values on the social sciences contributed to this deficit of empirical success. Second, social sciences such as economics and psychology emerged from their philosophical precursors gradually and often carried with them the clear normative trappings of their disciplinary origins. Third, although formal rules on the treatment of human subjects would not emerge until the second half of the twentieth century, by the time the social sciences emerged, it was obvious there were both ethical and epistemic challenges to experimenting on human subjects and human communities. Controlled settings were (and are) often difficult to achieve (or are unethical to achieve), making clear empirical success even more elusive. Finally, there is the additional com-plication that social sciences invariably study and/or comment upon human values. All of these considerations lent credence to the view that social sciences were inevitably more value-laden, and as a result less reliable, than the natural sciences.

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Gendler, Tamar Szabó, , . Thought experiments rethought – and reperceived
2004, Philosophy of Science 71 (5):1152-1163.
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by:

Abstract: Contemplating imaginary scenarios that evoke certain sorts of quasi?sensory intuitions may bring us to new beliefs about contingent features of the natural world. These beliefs may be produced quasi?observationally; the presence of a mental image may play a crucial cognitive role in the formation of the belief in question. And this albeit fallible quasi?observational belief?forming mechanism may, in certain contexts, be sufficiently reliable to count as a source of justification. This sheds light on the central puzzle surrounding scientific thought experiment, which is how contemplation of an imaginary scenario can lead to new knowledge about contingent features of the natural world.

Comment: This is a good introductory reading to the philosophy of thought experiements. It would work well as a required reading on the topic.

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Nagel, Jennifer, , . Knowledge: A Very Short Introduction
2014, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Jie Gao, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Human beings naturally desire knowledge. But what is knowledge? Is it the same as having an opinion? Highlighting the major developments in the theory of knowledge from Ancient Greece to the present day, Jennifer Nagel uses a number of simple everyday examples to explore the key themes and current debates of epistemology.

Comment: As a contribution to the Oxford "very short introduction" seriers, this book is written to general public. This introductory book stands out due to its clarity, accessibility and coverage of topics. It might fall short of being a proper textbook for an epistemology course, but it constitutes a very good reading for all new-comers to epistemology. So it might be recommended as a further reading for a lower level undergraduate courses on epistemology or as an introduction to philosophy.

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