Feminist Perspectives on Science (Lecture 8): Pragmatist-Feminist Philosophy of Science

Some feminist scholars of science have suggested that those challenging the “objectivity” of scientific knowledge in order to effect a feminist transformation of science are caught up in the wrong kind of argument—one revolving around how accurately we ‘represent’ an external world. One notable alternative approach to the study of science is pragmatism, a philosophy […]

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Feminist Perspectives on Science (Lecture 6): Impartiality of Method

The notion of science’s impartiality is that of a method that constructs, accepts, and rejects theories based purely on their relations to evidence, without the interference of values. Much of feminist theorizing on science suggests that taking an explicitly and self-consciously feminist approach to scientific methodology will lead to an improvement in science. But where […]

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History of Social Science (Lecture 4): Social Physics, Industrialization, and the French Revolution

In the nation-building, wars, and industrialization after the French Revolution, an enthusiasm for natural scientific methodology developed among intellectual and political elites. Scientific subjects experienced a growth of prestige in educational establishments, which had previously been based on classical education. While the social context gave rise to new problems of crime, disease, poverty, and prostitution, […]

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Feminist Perspectives on Science (Lecture 4): Exclusion from the Profession

An important strand of feminist science studies takes the form of highlighting the  contributions of women throughout the history of science, and the social and political reasons they have not been recognized. This lecture will consider the “hidden figures” of science—i.e. talented women who have been excluded, marginalized, or plagiarized in the history of science, […]

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History of Social Science (Lecture 2): Women in the History of Social Science (Focus: Chicago School)

During the institutionalization of the discipline of sociology in the early 20th century, we see the segregation and exclusion of women in the form of a division of sociological labor. Men were expected and encouraged to become professors and deal with abstract ideas and theories, while women’s roles lay in testing and putting these ideas […]

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Feminist Perspectives on Science (Lecture 2): The Value-Free Ideal of Science

The traditional understanding of science is that of a value-free process of knowledge-acquisition which guarantees objectivity in its results. Value-free can have many meanings, all of which are habitually claimed for science: (1) a process autonomous from the workings, influence, and direction of society, (2) a set of neutral knowledge that does not serve any […]

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On the Role of Values in Science: A Pragmatist Deconstruction of ‘Impartiality’

Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and Mind Association
University of Kent, July 2020 (with subtitles)


“Debates on the role of values in science have often revolved around the issue of the impartiality of scientific methods. They have therefore tended to hinge the accountability of scientific research programs on the issue of whether scientific methods can provide us with an objective picture of the world. I suggest that this framing of the debate is due to a particular abstract perspective of what kind of practice science is in human life. I suggest an alternative, pragmatist perspective of science which does not need to make positive or negative claims about science’s impartiality in order to make claims about the intrinsic role of values in science. This is because, in such a view, science is an evolved set of habits leading to interventional success in improving lived human environments, which already brings with it intrinsic value-considerations.”