Sandra Harding here develops further the themes first addressed in her widely influential book, The Science Question in Feminism, and conducts a compelling analysis of feminist theories on the philosophical problem of how we know what we know.Following a strong narrative line, Harding sets out her arguments in highly readable prose. In Part 1, she discusses issues that will interest anyone concerned with the social bases of scientific knowledge. In Part 2, she modifies some of her views and then pursues the many issues raised by the feminist position which holds that women's social experience provides a unique vantage point for discovering masculine bias and and questioning conventional claims about nature and social life. In Part 3, Harding looks at the insights that people of color, male feminists, lesbians, and others can bring to these controversies, and concludes by outlining a feminist approach to science in which these insights are central. "Women and men cannot understand or explain the world we live in or the real choices we have," she writes, "as long as the sciences describe and explain the world primarily from the perspectives of the lives of the dominant groups."Harding's is a richly informed, radical voice that boldly confronts issues of crucial importance to the future of many academic disciplines. Her book will amply reward readers looking to achieve a more fruitful understanding of the relations between feminism, science, and social life.
"This is an important book that has much to offer practicing scientists but probably will not be read by many of them. That is a shame, because its bold claims are usefully unsettling and its argument begs for engagement. One of the basic messages of Whose Science? Whose Knowledge?—that all fields of natural science are best analysed from within the social sciences, of which they are logically a part, rather than taken as external models for the social sciences—has potential consequences for most, perhaps all, scientific practice."—Rayna Rapp, New School for Social Research, Science, Vol. 256, May 1992
- Publisher's Weekly
In a dozen intriguing, thought-provoking essays viewing science and its practice from a feminist perspective, Harding takes up some of themes from her earlier work The Science Question in Feminism. ``Why `Physics' Is a Bad Model for Physics'' argues that the image of ``pure'' science as value-free and distinct from applied science and technology is an illusion and, further, that science with no socially useful application could ``reasonably be seen as a make-work welfare program for the middle classes.'' ``What Is Feminist Epistemology'' explores feminist empiricism, which asserts that the problem with scientific inquiry lies not in its standards but in the fact that it fails to meet its own standards; Harding also examines the more radical feminist standpoint theories, which claim that what a culture calls ``knowledge'' is itself socially situated, that knowledge looks different from the standpoint of women's lives. ``Reinventing Ourselves as Other,'' while regarding women as science's post-modern ``other,'' approaches ``the Monster Problem: what does and should it mean to be a male feminist?'' (May)
Introduction—after the science question in feminism. Part 1 Science: feminism confronts the sciences
how the women's movement benefits science—two views
why "physics" is a bad model for physics. Part 2 Epistemology: what is feminist epistemology
"strong objectivity" and socially situated knowledge
feminist epistemology in and after the enlightenment. Part 3 "Others": "...and race?"—the science question in global feminism
common histories, common destinies—science in the first and third worlds
thinking from the perspective of lesbian lives
reinventing ourselves as other
Conclusion—what is a feminist science.