Situating feminist epistemology

Episteme 17 (1):28-47 (2020)
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Abstract

Feminist epistemologies hold that differences in the social locations of inquirers make for epistemic differences, for instance, in the sorts of things that inquirers are justified in believing. In this paper we situate this core idea in feminist epistemologies with respect to debates about social constructivism. We address three questions. First, are feminist epistemologies committed to a form of social constructivism about knowledge? Second, to what extent are they incompatible with traditional epistemological thinking? Third, do the answers to these questions raise serious problems for feminist epistemologies? We argue that some versions of two of the main strands in feminist epistemology – feminist standpoint theory and feminist empiricism – are committed to a form of social constructivism, which requires certain departures from traditional epistemological thinking. But we argue that these departures are less problematic than one might think. Thus, (some) feminist epistemologies provide a plausible way of understanding how (some) knowledge might be socially constructed.

Author Profiles

Natalie Alana Ashton
University of Stirling
Robin McKenna
University of Liverpool

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