Feminism and the Social Construction of Scientific Knowledge

  • Rouse J
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Abstract

Feminist science studies and the sociology of scientific knowledge have emerged within the past twenty years as explicit challenges to the epistemological individualism that still predominates within most philosophy of science. The “Strong Programme” for the sociology of scientific knowledge was put forward first, to provide distinctively sociological explanations for the diversity of human beliefs about the natural world.1 Whereas earlier programs in the sociology of knowledge had exempted the natural sciences and mathematics from their purview, and the dominant Mertonian approaches to the sociology of science had confined their studies to scientific institutions, motivations, and organizational norms, the new sociologists proposed to explain the content of scientific knowledge in the same way that they would explain any other systems of beliefs and practices. To do otherwise, they often argued, would invoke a scientifically unjustifiable a-priori decision to exempt the sciences from empirical sociological investigation. Indeed, they called for a methodological commitment to some form of epistemological relativism to prevent centuries of cultural admiration for and epistemic deference to science from prejudicing sociological inquiry.

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Rouse, J. (1996). Feminism and the Social Construction of Scientific Knowledge. In Feminism, Science, and the Philosophy of Science (pp. 195–215). Springer Netherlands. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-009-1742-2_10

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