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Some Questions about Feminist Epistemologies...

Discussion in 'Feminist Only' started by Sunstone, Dec 17, 2015.

  1. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    I have recently begun readings in feminist epistemologies. And although I have yet to get very far, so far as I've gotten, feminist epistemologies seem to me to seek to place at least some purely subjective knowledge on the same epistemic footing as intersubjective knowledge.

    So, my first question is: Is that the case? Do at least some feminist epistemologies seek to place at least some purely subjective knowledge on the same epistemic footing as intersubjective knowledge? Or do I have that wrong (the articles I've been reading are not entirely clear on this point)?

    But, if my impression is correct, then I must ask by what procedure, if any, can purely subjective knowledge be verified by others? And if it cannot, then in what sense can such knowledge be considered scientific?

    Another question (or perhaps set of questions): Do feminist epistemologies posit that there exists an objective reality? That is, a reality external to the subject?

    I ask because the sources I've read so far seem to do that. However this creates a number of problems for any epistemology -- feminist or not -- that attempts it, and it seems to me that it might especially create problems for a feminist epistemology.

    By the way, I happen to think of "objective reality" as a model. It happens to be a very good model. But models do not need to work the same way reality does: They simply need to accurately predict outcomes. Objective reality tends to be very good at predicting outcomes, especially on the macro level. But there seems to be no logical necessity for the claim that objective reality is anything more than a model. That is, that it exists.
     
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  2. Laika

    Laika Well-Known Member
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    Ah! so many long words! the cultural marxism is already rotting your brain! :eek:

    Do you mean you want an objective and scientific definition for what counts as "sexist"?

    I don't know honestly but it be an intresting one to find out.
     
  3. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    No. A scientific definition of "sexist" is possible even without a feminist epistemology. But what I would like to see is how a "classical" scientific definition of sexist compares to a feminist scientific definition of sexist.
     
  4. Laika

    Laika Well-Known Member
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    errr... I had to look it up, but the origin of the word "sexist" is very recent (from 1968 by most accounts). So thats going to limit what you can do at a guess.
     
  5. sandandfoam

    sandandfoam Veteran Member

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    To aid discussion can you provide an example of what you mean by 'purely subjective knowledge' and 'intersubjective knowledge'?
     
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  6. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    Purely subjective knowledge might be that I have had experience x. Intersubjectively verified knowledge would then be that I and my friend Susan have both had experience y.
     
  7. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    Actually, the above is not precisely correct. To be precise, purely subjective knowledge might be something on the order of "My feet hurt", Only I myself can verify that my feet hurt. In short, what I'm calling "purely subjective knowledge" here is knowledge that cannot be intersubjectively verified.

    Intersubjectively verified knowledge, on the other hand, might be something on the order of "Oxygen and Hydrogen combine to form water." Both I and my friend Susan can experience oxygen an hydrogen combining to form water. Hence the knowledge can be verified between subjects, or inter-subjectively.
     
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  8. sandandfoam

    sandandfoam Veteran Member

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    In a hypothetical scenario, if I were to argue that discourse analysis indicates that the way Mr X talks about gender equality is, although apparently egalitarian, based on taken for granted assumptions (e.g. women are more suited to child-rearing than men) I expect that you might agree with me. We could say that this view is inter-subjectively verifiable. However, I doubt that we would find many positivists to agree with us.
    If we consider your op "feminist epistemologies seem to me to seek to place at least some purely subjective knowledge on the same epistemic footing as intersubjective knowledge." I think 'subjective knowledge' i.e. as ascertained from qualitative research can be equallly as worthy as 'intersubjective knowledge' gained from quantitative research.
    It all depends on the language game we are playing :)
     
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  9. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    Obviously, the insidious Marxist plot is working!
     
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  10. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    I agree with you here. I see nothing in either theory or practice that would prevent us from inter-subjectively verifying that Mr. X has made a number of assumptions about women in his discussion of gender equality.

    Could you offer an example of some subjective knowledge that is "equally worthy" as some example of inter-subjective knowledge? I put "equally worthy" in quotes because I happen to agree with some possible meanings of the phrase, but perhaps not with others.
     
  11. dust1n

    dust1n Zindīq

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    I'm pretty sure most people acknowledge this to some extent or another. But positing an objective reality is more a metaphysical matter. From an epistemological point of view, it matters more what we can know about objective reality and what knowing is and how it operates, etc. This is a topic, like most epistemology that is rigorously minute and detailed and mostly pertains to scientists who have broad views about various elements that constitute a larger subject, and also probably deserves more justify than my shoddy understandings. This is just one view about a specific element, and perhaps might help to answer your question a bit:

    "The Basic Pragmatic Strategy. The above reflections provide a standard for determining when socially value-laden inquiry has gone wrong. They do not explain what positive epistemic influence they could have. How could they function as an epistemic resource? Some feminist epistemologists at this point stress the pragmatic functions of inquiry (Anderson 1995b). All inquiry begins with a question. Questions may be motivated not only by the purely cognitive interest of curiosity, but by various practical interests in understanding the nature and causes of situations one judges to be problematic, and in finding out how to improve those situations. The resulting product of inquiry should therefore be shaped to these practical-cum-cognitive interests. The pragmatic aspects of inquiry introduce new dimensions of evaluation to theories. We can ask not only whether the theories are backed by sufficient evidence to warrant their acceptance, but whether they are cast in forms that are cognitively accessible to the situated knowers who want to use these theories, whether they are useful to these knowers (help them solve their problems), and whether they answer the questions they were designed to answer. A set of statements can be true, yet fail these pragmatic tests.

    Even the staunchest defenders of the value-neutrality of science acknowledge that pragmatic factors legitimately influence the choice of objects of study. In this function, then, pragmatic interests, including social and political values, are epistemic resources: inquirers with different interests will study and make discoveries about different aspects of the world. But the defenders of value-neutral science contend that once inquirers decide where to cast their flashlight, what gets lit up is determined entirely by the nature of the world. Feminist epistemologists argue that the light of practical interests penetrates more deeply into what is discovered than this. Knowers (subjects) play a more active role in constituting the object of knowledge than the flashlight metaphor suggests. (This is one thing feminist epistemologists mean when they say they reject “the subject-object dichotomy.”) “Constitution” has two senses, representational and causal. In the representational sense, knowers constitute the object of knowledge in choosing the terms in which they represent it, and in defining the context in which it is represented as operating. If knowing is like seeing, all seeing is a form of “seeing as”—and different interests will make us see the “same” things differently (Longino 1990). This is a straightforward implication of the fact of situated knowing. In the causal sense, some representations have a causal impact on what is represented. When what we are representing is ourselves, uptake of our self-representations will change who we are and what we do. This follows from our agency, which is the determination to govern ourselves by our self-understandings. This is sometimes what is meant by the claim that subjects, or their identities, are “socially constructed.”

    The basic pragmatic strategy for defending feminist science, or any inquiry shaped by social and political values, is to show how the pragmatic interests of that inquiry license or require a particular mode of influence of values on the process, product, and uptake of the product of inquiry, while at the same time leaving appropriate room for evidence to play its warranting role. Values and evidence play different, cooperative roles in properly conducted inquiry; values do not compete with evidence for the determination of belief (Anderson 1995b, 2004)."

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminism-epistemology
     
  12. sandandfoam

    sandandfoam Veteran Member

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    Pretty much anything that would be published in a journal like this:
    http://www.brill.com/journal-phenomenological-psychology
     
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  13. Penumbra

    Penumbra Veteran Member
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    One way to translate subjective knowledge into intersubjective knowledge is via statistical analysis.

    If, for example, 70% of women say that they have experienced X, then this statistical statement is intersubjectively verifiable, even if each individual woman's experience is subjective. Research studies and polls can basically turn qualitative statements of experience into quantitative statements about reality.
     
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  14. Orbit

    Orbit I'm a planet

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    Feminist epistemologists take subjective experience as a *starting point*. They don't engage in debates with objectivists, they assert subjective knowledge reveals life experiences that fall into patterns that can be identified inductively.

    Intersubjectivity isn't an epistemic concern. For a discusiion of science vs feminist epistemology, see http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008UYOMWU?keywords=sandra harding whose science?&qid=1452388097&ref_=sr_1_2&sr=8-2

    But, if my impression is correct, then I must ask by what procedure, if any, can purely subjective knowledge be verified by others? And if it cannot, then in what sense can such knowledge be considered scientific?


    It depends on the theorist. In general, materialist feminists are most concerned with women's objective living conditions and postmodernist feminists are more concerned with questions of meaning and subjectivity. Some combine the two, like http://www.amazon.com/Materialist-F...spell&keywords=rosemary+hennessey+materialist
     
    #14 Orbit, Jan 9, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2016
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  15. Orbit

    Orbit I'm a planet

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    This analysis is not necessary as long as N=30 qualitative interviews. See http://www.amazon.com/Metric-Scaling-Correspondence-Quantitative-Applications/dp/0803937504/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1452389195&sr=8-3&keywords=a+kimball+romney

    That cultural informants are reliable is statistically treated here http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1525/aa.1986.88.2.02a00020/abstract
     
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