Relativism in Feminist Epistemologies 1
Different views on the connection between relativism and feminist epistemologies are often asserted but rarely are these views clearly argued for. This has resulted in a confusingly polarised debate, with some people convinced that feminist epistemologies are committed to relativism (and that this is a reason so be suspicious of them) whilst others make similar criticisms of anti-feminist views and argue that relativism has no place in feminist epistemologies. This chapter is an attempt to clarify this debate. I begin by asking the question “are feminist projects and goals best served by relativism, or by absolutism?” I then sketch out four broad positions one could take on the answer to this question, and evaluate arguments for each one. In the end I conclude that feminist projects can, at least sometimes, be served by relativism, and that the claim they can be served by anti-relativism is under-supported.