Lecture 9- Lorraine Code: a feminist rethinking of knowledge
-Is objectivity attainable?
-Does objectivity itself betray a bias?
Descartes’s epistemological legacy
• “the Cartesian route to knowledge is through private, abstract thought, through the efforts
of reason unaided either by the senses or by consultation with other knowers. It is this
individualistic, self-reliant, private aspect of Descartes’s philosophy, that has been
influential in shaping subsequent epistemological ideas.” (272)
• Cartesian model:
The classic model for knowledge
• When can we say we have knowledge?
• Truth and knowledge have a particular feature to them
-S knows that P model
• It is raining today
• The earth revolves around the sun
• The evidence or reasoning to verify these claims is ideally:
• Permanent, objective, ahistorical, circumstantially neutral • Doesn’t matter who is making these claims
• The knower’s perspective is not important here
• Epistemology aims to establish what counts as knowledge
-for all people, in any time and in any culture
• Who S is shouldn’t make a difference
• The same standards for knowledge apply to everyone
• Very egalitarian view of reason and knowledge
• But is it that egalitarian, or is there an implicit bias in the view of knowledge we get in
the Western tradition?
• Nagel, “subjective and Objective”, 1985
• “objectivity involves not only a departure from one’s individual viewpoint, but also as
far as possible, departure from specifically human or even mammalian viewpoint
• Knowledge means getting, as much as possible, at the world itself
-Letting the data speak for itself The more we can establish the facts apart from the
subject, the more objective we are
• Upsides to this?
-Weeding out of prejudice, bias, religious and cultural interests, sexism, and subjectivity
• Model asserts knowledge as highly individualistic, non-contextual
• All knowers are gen