Whose Science? Whose Knowledge? Thinking from Women's Lives

Whose Science? Whose Knowledge? Thinking from Women's Lives

Whose Science? Whose Knowledge? Thinking from Women's Lives

Whose Science? Whose Knowledge? Thinking from Women's Lives

Synopsis

With a book that is guaranteed to upset familiar assumptions about or ways of knowing, Sandra Harding again steps into the center of a thorn debate--a debate about the nature of the scientific enterprise and of human knowledge itself. Vigorously and persuasively, she develops further the themes first addressed in The Science Question in Feminism. It that widely influential book, she asked what it is that is distinctive about feminist research. Here she conducts a compelling analysis of feminist theories on the philosophical problem of how we know what we know.

Excerpt

In The Science Question in Feminism (1986) I showed how feminist criticisms raised important issues not only about the social structure and uses of the sciences but also about the origins, problematics, social meanings, agendas, and theories of scientific knowledge-seeking. Feminists were asking "the woman question" in science: "What do women want from the sciences and their technologies?" But they were also asking "the science question in feminism": "Is it possible to use for liberatory ends sciences that are apparently so intimately involved in Western, bourgeois, and masculine projects?" One theme in that book was the importance of tensions between three epistemological programs: feminist empiricist philosophy, which tries to correct "bad science"; feminist standpoint theory, which tries to construct knowledge from the perspective of women's lives; and feminist postmodernism, which is suspicious of the Enlightenment loyalties inherent in such scientific and epistemological projects.

Several themes of that book are pursued further here. Because the social and intellectual contexts for thinking about women, feminism, science, and knowledge have been shifting rapidly, however, certain projects have moved in somewhat different directions from those which that study anticipated. For one thing, I now see important ways to develop the intellectually powerful feminist standpoint theory of knowledge to meet a good number of questions I raised about it in the earlier book. This epistemology, like the feminist research and scholarship for which it provides a metatheory, can be pried yet further . . .

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