chapter  1
18 Pages

Feminist epistemologies

The emergence of ‘feminist epistemology’

What is ‘feminist epistemology’? When the second-wave theorists first began to use the term ‘feminist epistemology’, it did not refer to a recognizable body of work. Rather the term referred to a set of theoretical and political problems concerning accounts of knowledge. These problems focused upon whether there are ‘distinctive feminist perspectives on epistemology, metaphysics, methodology and philosophy of science’ (Harding and Hintikka 1983a: ix). In the 1980s, a number of works appeared which began explicitly to take up these issues, such as Rose (1983), Jagger (1983) and the anthology Discovering Reality (Harding and Hintikka 1983b). Contributors to this anthology included Sandra Harding, Kathryn Pyne Addelson, Evelyn Fox Keller, Naomi Scheman, Nancy Hartsock and Jane Flax, all of whom have since become significant theorists in the area. The mid-1980s saw the publication of influential key texts which were to shape the contemporary field, including Haraway’s ‘A Manifesto for Cyborgs’ (1985), Harding’s The Science Question in Feminism ([1986] (1991)) and Dorothy Smith’s The Everyday World as Problematic (1987).