Situating Objectivity: A Feminist Conceptualization
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation focuses on the ideal of objectivity in science. My aim is to understand and situate how objectivity has been conceptualized in the philosophy of science, and to question whether these conceptualizations are consistent with the actual ways in which objectivity has been sought in scientific practice. I examine the dominant views of objectivity in mainstream philosophy of science and feminist reactions to them. Ultimately, I argue that Helen Longino’s understanding of objectivity, complemented by some aspects of Sandra Harding’s “strong objectivity”, provides a more comprehensive and practical ideal to guide scientific practice than the received view’s conception where objectivity is sought by adopting an impersonal methodology. One of the main criticisms against feminist epistemologies, which argue for the gender specificity of knowledge, is that they lead to epistemic relativism. And hence it is argued that feminist epistemologies undermine “scientific objectivity”. In arguing for the fruitfulness and consistency of a feminist account of objectivity, I examine in what ways claims about the gender specificity of knowledge could be understood without rendering the notion of objectivity redundant.