PHIL 2500 Lecture Notes - Feminist Epistemology, Descriptive Knowledge, Necessity And Sufficiency
Monday March 4th
TA teaching class
-What is “feminist epistemology”?
-What makes an epistemology feminist?
“The Man of Reason”-Genevieve Lloyd
-What is epistemology?
-A body of knowledge
-Study of knowledge
-Epistemologists want to know what is knowledge? How is it created,
disseminated? How is it dispersed and acquired. How do we know what we know?
To what extent is it possible for a subject to be know? How much knowledge can you
have a subject? Necessary and sufficient conditions of knowledge
-Study of knowledge from a feminist perspective
-male paradigms vs. female qualities, divide between maleness and
-dominant epistemological systems
Terms- necessary and sufficient conditions of knowledge
What are necessary conditions?-needed meeting a requirement- must be satisfied
for a statement to be true. if x is needed for y then if we don’t have x we don’t have y.
Oxygen is a necessary condition for human life. If we don’t have oxygen we don’t
have human life.
Sufficient condition- enough.
If satisfied, assures the statements truth. X guarantees y. if you get 89% you get a A.
You could get 85 or whatever, but 89 would be an A.
Various types of knowledge
-know how to do things (play softball)
-know about places
-we can know other people- We know the lecturer, he brother also knows her. There
are degrees of knowledge
“S” knows that “P”
S- subject who knows
p-proposition that is known
-example Sally knows that the cup is white
-Substitution assumptions (A key aspect of propositional knowledge)
-S can be substituted by S (S can be substituted for any other subject who knows)
And P can be substituted for any other subject who knows
-When epistemologists talk about propositional knowledge they’re talking about
empirical items that you can observe in the world- not like how well you know
someone or somewhere, they’re talking about chairs, balls, tables.
-Pieces of information that you can verify through your senses.
-The idea is that the subject can be anyone.
-Sally knows that the class ends at 2:30
Feminist epistemologist- critique the issues with classical western epistemology
The take issue with the following-
-positivism and objectivity
-universality (not located- doesn’t have a place in space and time)
-authority-who do we say can know? who do we look to to provide
-rationality, certainty, universalizability
-individualism and autonomy
(depends on who’s work your reading, different feminist episimologists have
1. reliance on science and positivism- to get to the truth of something-
western context but also other culture
-Every rationally justifiable assertion can be scientifically verified. We
use science to get truth. Well “science has proven that ____”. Trying to
get us to believe that’s true.
1.Value-neutrality- we look at Facts as disconnected or dissociated
from value system- no objective, no ideology. Facts and values are separate. It’s just
2.Objectivity- remove subjective bias from inquiry and claims about
truth. Be able to reproduce same results. Need the same results anywhere-
ideological leaning is removed.
-contrasted with relativism /subjective relativism)-truth about reality is relative to
the individual perceiving it (ie. Protagoras-“man is the measure of all things”)
-If a breeze blows-was a breeze cold or warm? Both right for Protagoras)
S knows that P
Jane knows the books is blue
Rainbow knows the book is blue
What’s wrong with this substitutionalist model?
-They’re not equal
-where the knowledge is coming from- (someone told them)
-S didn’t know the book is blue- she didn’t know, maybe she did a survey, or make
an educated guess or might ask other people. Might ask someone you trust or
someone closer to the table.
-often in society and we don’t know something and can’t relly on senses, we relly on
-Can replace S with anyone.
-obviousy Jane and Rainbow aren’t the same, not equal, ignoring perception
-Ignores the subject (our subject is located or embodied)
-feminist episomologists have a problem with the “view from nowhere)
-calls attention to the subject, how we individually experience the world.
-what do we know, what do we not know.
-This idea that the viewer is not from anywhere- or universal, their place is
-Western episomology says the knower can be anyone.
-Also the surrogate knower
Who can know? Who can produce knowledge and who is the “S” we’re turning to?
-educational system is broken, more standardized test, paying teaches based on
standardized test- since they are experts we accept as true. Then we ask “have you
ever been in a classroom?”
Standpoint theorist- argue that people in marginalized groups have privileged
knowledge then other people in other social situations. People on the ground will
have a better understanding of some things.
They would assume that a maid knows nothing, but she sees a lot and hears lots of
talk about the family and what they talk about.
Intersectionality relates to this. Privileged white women shouldn’t speak for all
4. Rationality- certainty and Universalizbility
Lloyd- male is rational, woman is irrational
Aristotle- impotent male
Catholic church- women as temptress
Augustine-more on the slide…
-Reason is “encapsulated” in “a systematic method for attaining certainty
-Descartes “doctrine of clear and distinct ideas”
-Method is “universally applicable, regardless of any difference in subject
-Reason- certain, universal, comes from God.
-Reason as a distinct emotion and intuition
-antithesis between mind and matter- separate from one another
-mind and intellect is separate from the body, body is not important