Philosophy of Science after Feminism

By Janet A. Kourany | Go to book overview

Preface

The goal of Philosophy of Science after Feminism is to provide the blueprint for a philosophy of science more socially engaged and socially responsible than the philosophy of science we have now, a philosophy of science that can help to promote a science more socially engaged and socially responsible than the science we have now. Feminists—feminist scientists and historians of science, as well as feminist philosophers of science—have already been pursuing this kind of philosophy of science in gender-related areas for three decades now. The strategy I adopt is to develop from their work a comprehensive new program of research for philosophy of science. How do I do this?

Chapter 1 introduces the kinds of normative questions regarding science feminists have been pursuing. These questions locate science within its wider societal context, investigating science’s epistemic aspects as they are entangled with science’s ethical, sociopolitical, and economic aspects. These questions are contrasted with the normative questions regarding science that mainstream philosophy of science currently pursues, the questions that investigate science’s epistemic aspects in isolation from science’s societal context.

Chapter 2 explores the twentieth-century roots of contemporary philosophy of science and its penchant for dealing with science as if science existed in a social/political/economic vacuum. It uncovers no defensible reasons, epistemic or otherwise, to indulge this penchant and many reasons not to. It also uncovers, in the early-twentieth-century work of the Vienna Circle, an important historical precedent for doing philosophy of science in a more socially connected way. A contemporary program for a “contextualized” philosophy of science inspired by the work of feminists might therefore be an attractive option.

Chapter 3 thus takes up the feminists’ normative questions regarding science introduced in chapter 1 together with the various feminist science studies approaches they have engendered: the methodological approach rationalized by the ideal of value-free science, the social approach rationalized by the social-value-management ideal of science, and the naturalist approaches rationalized by the empiricist ideal of science. In the end, however, a new approach is found necessary: a political approach rationalized

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