FEMINIST CONTEXTUAL EMPIRICISM
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FEMINIST CONTEXTUAL EMPIRICISM book
Helen Longino understands a good epistemology as both setting outthe conditions that must be satisfied in order for people to ascribe the status “knowledge” to something and describing what people do. A good philosophy of science, then, describes the work of scientists and gives a detailed theory of the conditions that must be satisfied in order for the scientific community to know something rather than hypothesize it (Longino 2002: 10). The claim that philosophers should describe what people do, e.g. their knowledge-producing practices, is contested by philosophers for many reasons: many wish to maintain a strong distinction between philosophy as “conceptual” and social or natural science as “empirical,” and/or maintain a sharp distinction between facts and values, and/or believe that descriptive epistemology and philosophy of science leads to pernicious relativism. But Longino belongs to the school of epistemologists and philosophers of science who wish to naturalize epistemology and philosophy of science inasmuch as she believes that philosophy must give accounts of knowledge in general and scientific knowledge in particular that are based more closely on what scientists (or other knowers) actually do when they produce and transmit knowledge. But Longino does not belong with those naturalizers who think that philosophy should no longer concern itself with norms (i.e. the conditions that must be satisfied in order for people to ascribe the status “knowledge” to something) and should not produce normative accounts of knowledge. Philosophy should be both normative and empirical.This is why she sets up The Fate of Knowledge as breaking down the dichotomy between social and rational accounts of knowledge (Longino 2002: 10).