Final Summaries on 20th-Century Science: Feminism and Science

The below essay was at the same time my favorite to write and my last one for my list with Susan Lindee. Concluding my readings in Cold-War Science and Feminism also brings me one step closer to my oral exams on May 6: this was the first one out of three lists that I completed reading. As of yesterday, I have finished all my lists (more essays to follow on this weblog soon).

I have some training in Gender Studies, most importantly through taking classes with Anelis Kaiser, Sabine Hark, and following the NeuroGenderings network, but taking time to (re)read and discuss the below works gave me a new perspective on my own work. I used to have problems calling myself a “feminist,” because I’ve seen a lot of unproductive deconstructivism in the public discourse. The below scholarship, however, together with my teachers and the NeuroGenderings network, offers a glimpse into the development towards productive feminist science critique that does not forget intersectionality—a scholarly project that I want to contribute to.

Works Read

History of Feminism:

Scott, Joan W. 1986. “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis.” American Historical Review 91 (5): 1053–75. doi:10.1086/ahr/91.5.1053 .

Rossiter, Margaret W. 1982. Women Scientists in America: Struggles and Strategies to 1940. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Schiebinger, Londa. 1999. Has Feminism Changed Science? Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Creager, Angela N. H., Elizabeth Lunbeck, and Londa L. Schiebinger, eds. 2001. Feminism in Twentieth-Century Science, Technology, and Medicine. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Fedigan’s chapter is individually listed in section “Animals, Anthropomorphism, Sex, and Evolution.”)


Feminist Science Critiques:

MacCormack, Carol P., and Marilyn Strathern, eds. 1980. Nature, Culture and Gender. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Bleier, Ruth. 1984. Science and Gender: A Critique of Biology and Its Theories on Women. New York: Pergamon Press.

Keller, Evelyn F. 1985. Reflections on Gender and Science. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Hubbard, Ruth. 1990. The Politics of Women’s Biology. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Oudshoorn, Nelly. 1994. Beyond the Natural Body: An Archaeology of Sex Hormones. New York, London: Routledge.

van den Wijngaard, Marianne. 1997. Reinventing the Sexes: The Biomedical Construction of Femininity and Masculinity. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Harding, Sandra G., and Jean F. O’Barr, eds. 1987. Sex and Scientific Inquiry. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Laslett, Barbara, Sally G. Kohlstedt, Helen Longino, and Evelynn Hammonds, eds. 1996. Gender and Scientific Authority. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Harding, Sandra G. 2006. Science and Social Inequality: Feminist and Postcolonial Issues. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

In her seminal paper, Joan Scott argues that “Gender [Is] A Useful Category of Historical Analysis.” She reviews the ways in which the concept has been used by historians prior to the publication of her essay. Scott distinguishes between descriptive and more cause-related usages of the category. An example for the descriptive use is, in her eyes, women’s history within the contemporary historiographical paradigm. More radically, first, feminists have tried to seek the causes for patriarchy in gender binaries, thereby ignoring other forms of discrimination besides sexism, for instance, class and race. Second, scholars in a Marxist tradition have sought explanations for the evolvement of gender systems in modes of production, thereby reducing gender to a consequence of economic and class struggle. Third, Scott describes feminist psychoanalytical traditions for which Evelyn Fox Keller’s essays as well as Sandra Harding and Jean O’Barr’s edited volume (see below) provide examples. All of these works, Scott argues, do not allow historians to historicize gender as such and overcome the binary definition of this category. The gender concept Scott envisions comprises a social level of interpersonal relationships and perceptions of difference (1) as well as a more abstract level of power relationships (2). Within (1), the interplay between symbolic representations, normative ideas, institutional orders, and subjective identities can be assessed. (2) allows for an analysis of implicit exertions of power. A history that uses such a decisive gender concept, Scott suggests, refrains from reiterating historical notions of inequality, can ask new questions or rephrase old ones, is able to provide women with new historical agency, and could help imagining more egalitarian futures.

Historian of science Margaret Rossiter, well-known for her formulation of the “Matilda effect” (1993), provides an overview of the struggles of Women Scientists in America (and partially in Germany) with her monograph, which covers the years from the early 19th century through 1940, when a modern system of science with its disciplinary boundaries, associations, prizes, and funding structures was in place. Rossiter draws on a vast number of manuscript collections and oral histories from dozens of different archives, on published biographies, periodicals, and government reports, but also on statistical evidence and reference works for scientists. Combining numerical data with concrete case studies, Rossiter illustrates that, with few exceptions, male scientists actively hindered women’s access to equal education (chs. 1 and 2); to academic, government, industrial, and other employment (chs. 3–9); as well as to public and peer recognition (chs. 10 and 11).

Despite the fact that it was against the stereotypical idea of women (irrational, nurturing) to work in science (rational, technical), Rossiter shows that the 19th century with its growing scientific field offered unprecedented opportunities to both male and female scientists, as it was massively expanding and offering novel positions that could sometimes be filled with women. As the professionalization progressed in the late 19th century, job requirements were more specifically defined, leading to an exclusion of women. Women started pervading the scientific sphere in large numbers through clubs and museums in the late 19th century and gained the right to acquire Ph.D.s around 1900, as a consequence of feminist protests and claims for “fairness.” After that, however, women were contained in ‘feminine’ fields of science where they could use their “special skills” (e.g., “home economics” or child psychology) and/or they were prevented from getting jobs on top of the hierarchy, being stuck with low-payed observation or calculation tasks, for instance. They could not become full professors and were oftentimes excluded from professional societies; forming women scientists’ associations and advising newcomers to stick to the carved out niche fields were more a sign of resignation than of the success of the feminist science movement, Rossiter argues. The large numbers of women in science by 1940, she concludes, “had occurred at the price of accepting a pattern of segregated employment and underrecognition, which, try as they might, most women could not escape” (p. xviii). The exceptional few (e.g., Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead, who studied under Franz Boas; cf. ch. 10) owed their recognition to male patrons.

Londa Schiebinger’s monograph Has Feminism Changed Science? explicitly engages with Rossiter’s work and is slightly more optimistic in its assessment of the effects of second-wave feminism on science than Rossiter’s analysis of the first wave. In three parts, Schiebinger investigates into the ways in which the growing number of women in science have shaped academic careers (Part I), disciplinary cultures (Part II), and the content of science (Part III). Schiebinger draws on recent publications on women and gender in science in order “to extract … a set of useful analytical tools” (p. 13) for further investigations into the topic and future support of gender equality in the scientific community, its methods, and its knowledge (pp. 186–190). She concludes that feminism has partly changed the number of women in the professions, research methods, and questions pursued, particularly in the human and biological sciences, but she also makes clear that there is much left to equalize, most notably when it comes to the mathematical and physical sciences or, more generally, the question of how to reconcile family and professional career as a woman.

This is not primarily a book written for historians of science. As Schiebinger explains in her introduction, it is “a translation project, an attempt to make clear to readers of diverse backgrounds and interests the important issues concerning the place of women and gender in science” (p. 2). This agenda of accessibility and broad appeal may be one reason for why Schiebinger does not offer substantial engagement with feminist epistemologies in this work. She focuses on the more practical questions of how women can enter and survive in scientific fields (the easier task) and how scientific research practices and topics can be less biased. Schiebinger’s desire for a diverse audience is also based on her insight that ‘feminism’ was not able to impose change on science from outside; to the contrary, feminists inside and outside of academia, non-feminist scientists, professional societies, university administrations, the government, and funding agencies need to be and have been involved in negotiations surrounding gender equality in science, not to mention cultural perceptions, public architecture, and classroom interaction from elementary school on.

Angela Creager et al.’s edited volume Feminism in Twentieth-Century Science is an extension of Schiebinger’s monograph offering different case studies that endorse Schiebinger’s argument that feminist changes of science (Part I), technology (Part II), and medicine (Part III) occurred as a movement from within various disciplines and were not in any way imposed on them from the outside. The range of contributions in Part I (archaeology, primatology, and biology) as well as the introduction echo Schiebinger’s assertion that the mathematical and physical sciences have not yet been transformed by feminist theories, values, and practices. In comparison with Part II, it becomes clear that what is presented as feminist influence on technology diverges from how feminism has reshaped science. Whereas the contributors to Part I argue that scientists, always seeking to approximate ‘the truth’ more closely, where (relatively) ready to adopt new questions, methods, and interpretations. In the realm of technology, however, feminism led to an acknowledgement of the importance of the (female) consumers besides the (male) producers and their product design.

In Part III, Nelly Oudshoorn and Evelynn Hammonds contribute analyses of the feminist fixation of studies on the female body and of the male-gay-centric HIV/AIDS debate respectively. Oudshoorn argues that feminist inquiries should henceforth include the male body in their analyses in order to develop, for instance, a male contraceptive. Overall, the contributions in Part III are more directed at the possibilities to invert sexual and gender stereotypes through and within medicine, not so much at the advance of scientific knowledge in gender-sensitive ways, or the redirection of technological production and the history of technology.

Carol MacCormack and Marilyn Strathern’s edited volume Nature, Culture and Gender comprises eight contributions, most of which are authored by female social anthropologists. The contributions build on and extend Sherry Ortner’s 1974 paper “Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture?,” in which Ortner identifies the widespread notion that women are closer to nature than men. The contributors to this volume assess in a more nuanced way the link between the female/male binary and the nature (or wild, animal) / culture (or tame, human) distinction in European cultures, arguing that it does not as such exist in non-‘Western’ societies.

In the second chapter, Maurice and Jean Bloch provide an analysis of 18th-century French definitions of “nature” and show how these often ambiguous notions were born out of social concerns or means of political critique. Subsequently, Ludmilla Jordanova complements the Blochs’ contribution with an inquiry into the scientific and social construction of “woman” in 18th-century Europe. She assesses contradictory scientific metaphors and symbols pertaining to the woman as scientifically explainable and yet dangerously passionate and argues that the male/culture versus female/nature opposition has been “mediat[ed by] science and medicine” (p. 45), because these fields allowed for the definition of women as “a distinct class of persons” (p. 47) and thus the naturalization of the social order and fashioned white men with a vocabulary for sex and gender discourses. The remaining chapters provide theorized anthropological studies of peoples in South America, Africa, and Oceania, illustrating that “alternative structures” (p. 21) of a world conceived in binaries including gender and nature/culture are possible; none of the presented case studies present a simple ‘Western’ equation of male = culture and female = nature.

The following books are amongst the earliest feminist science critiques. Bleier, a neuroanatomist, provides a consideration of “nature” constructs within the ‘biological peoples’ and thus extends MacCormack and Strathern’s volume. In her own words, “[t]his book is concerned with the role of science in the creation of an elaborate mythology of women’s biological inferiority as an explanation for their subordinate position in the cultures of Western civilizations” (p. vii). This argument is based on analyses of theories of Wilsonian sociobiology (ch. 2), neurobiology (ch. 3), neuroendocrinology (ch. 4), evolutionary biology (ch. 5), anthropology (ch. 6), and medico-scientific discourses of human sexuality (ch. 7). Pointing to flawed methodologies, inconclusive findings, and proposed alternative theories, Bleier argues that the scientific claim of discovering nature and objectively explaining it is but a strategy to conceal a political endeavor.

Bleier’s goal is not to work out strategies for how scientific authority could be attained after all; in line with later arguments by Sandra Harding, for instance (see below), she argues for an abandonment of the objectivity illusion and an acknowledgement of the fact that all scientific knowledge is made by subjective subjects, and not a neutral read of some independently existing entity we can call ‘nature’. In a final chapter, she proposes “a feminist science that begins by discarding dualistic assumptions as well as concepts of control and dominance and of linear causality” (p. ix). Such a science would abandon all notions of biological determinism and instead be characterized by an “understanding of the constant change, complexity, contextuality, and interaction that characterize natural and social phenomena and our lives” (p. ix). As Harding argued a few years later, this is a call for another form of ideological science, but one that is, more reflexive and thus, so the hope, “better and more humane” (p. 207) than the standard in the 1980s.

Evelyn Fox Keller, a mathematical biophysicist by training, also addresses the political nature of scientific truth claims. Her volume Reflections on Gender and Science consists of nine essays, some of which are revised versions of papers published in the 1970s and 1980s. She succeeds exceptionally well in the synthesis of the diverse chapters, not least because each of the three parts of the book is fashioned with its own introduction, in addition to the overall introduction and a programmatic epilogue. Keller assesses science and gender by means of historical (Part I), psychoanalytical (Part II), and scientific/philosophical analyses (Part III). More specifically, she argues in chapters 2 and 3 that scientists before and during the Scientific Revolution painstakingly negotiated a scientific style and a notion of gender dichotomy that stuck with us, namely “an objectivist ideology, prematurely proclaiming anonymity, disinterest, and impersonality and radically excluding the subject” (p. 12), which was, additionally, laden with sexual metaphors and ideas of domination. In other words, science was masculinized more about four centuries ago.

Chapters 4 through 6 examine this specific scientific style and its naturalization psychoanalytically, after a well-reflected justification for doing so. The appropriation of psychoanalysis is rather widespread in second-wave feminism, as Harding and O’Barr’s edited volume shows (see below). In these chapters, Keller champions the unconscious longing for personal autonomy and the interpersonal project of domination (of ‘nature’ or women) as the basis for scientists’ claims of objectivity, that is, their assertion to be able to divorce the object of study from themselves as subjects, a developmental achievement according to Freudian psychoanalysis. The final three chapters are more concrete case studies in quantum mechanics and genetics; they illustrate that science cannot or does not exclusively proceed in the unified ‘masculine’ manner exposed in chapters 1 through 6; nonetheless, the idea of science as a field of competition and dominance is upheld by scientists themselves and in society more broadly.

Trained biologist Ruth Hubbard’s monograph, The Politics of Women’s Biology, reaffirms aforementioned claims that “science is no more immune from ideological commitments than are other human activities” (p. 211) and, in particular, that “biology is profoundly political” (p. 209). Only exposing the political nature of science, Hubbard argues, will legitimize feminists’ political demands to democratize the scientific field, its mechanisms, and its products. Like Scott, Hubbard is attentive to inequalities based on class and race (and ableness), and like Keller and Harding (see below), she propositions a different version of science, honoring the benefits of scientific pursuit per se.

Parts of the content of this book were previously published in the 1970s and 1980s and the chapters differ significantly in length and the form of evidence that is drawn on. What makes this volume nonetheless feel coherent is that it is written in an opinionated tone throughout and void of any footnotes or chapter-specific references besides the bibliography at the end of the book. This is thus more of a think piece than a history of gender in biology. Drawing on scientific episodes from the 19th and 20th centuries as well as on fictional portrayals of related issues, Hubbard attends to the ways in which biologists create knowledge and how women figure in this process (Part I); what the content of this knowledge is in genetics, evolutionary biology, and sociobiology (Part II); and to what ends this knowledge is used and what value statements these applications (re)produce in the field of reproductive technologies, which are mainly accessible to affluent, healthy, well-educated, heteronormative white families (Part III).

Dutch STS scholar Nelly Oudshoorn’s Beyond the Natural Body is “an archaeology of sex hormones” from the early years of European endocrinology in the 1920s and 1930s to the arrival of the birth control pill on the market in the 1960s in the US. This study is more in-depth than the previously discussed feminist accounts and less polemical than many of these. Oudshoorn emphasizes the Dutch part of the ‘sex hormone’ history, not least because the Netherlands were at the forefront of endocrinology research, partially under Thomas Laqueur’s uncle Ernst. Oudshoorn draws on published scientific material, feminist science critiques, STS, and histories of science, for instance, Adele Clarke’s work on reproductive science. She provides a critical assessment of the ways in which hormones were made scientifically accessible, sexed, gendered, as well as how they helped define new uses for existing healthcare facilities (the “resource network”; p. 141) and made possible the medicalization of hitherto ‘healthy’ states of the female body.

A novelty in Oudshoorn’s book as compared to similar accounts discussed here is that the present analysis goes beyond the laboratory and clinical practice and also looks at “pharmaceutical entrepreneurs” (p. 10) who harnessed and shaped the new knowledge starting in the 1930s (ch. 5). Furthermore, Oudshoorn draws on Ludwik Fleck’s concept of “prescientific ideas,” a notion that allows her to illustrate that “sex hormones” were not born of nothing, but that the theory formed slowly, out of an ambiguous idea of physical sex differences located in the ovaries and testes (ch. 2). This redefinition led to “a chemical model of sex and the body” (p. 144), culminating in a removal of the notion of “sex” from the uterus or the gonads and transforming it into an entity that permeates the entire body. The new understanding also turned the body into a potential site of experiments (chs. 3 and 6). At the same time, female bodies were re-defined as ‘cyclically sexed’, as the hormones wax and wane with the menstrual cycle, an observation that led to an ever more increasing reproductive view of women, the consequences of which are so aptly described in Emily Martin’s The Woman in the Body. Throughout the book, Oudshoorn makes very clear that holding on to the two-sex model was an arbitrary decision since from the early 20th century on, researchers found that “sex hormones” of both “sexes” appear in males and females, an observation that already led Fausto-Sterling to insist on a multiple-sex model.

Biologist Marianne van den Wijngaard’s monograph Reinventing the Sexes starts where Oudshoorn stops: after sex hormones have been established. This book is an analysis of the ways in which neuroendocrinology has redefined ‘sex’ since the 1980s. It traces and continues the critique of an alleged nature/nurture divide that was socially established and supported scientifically by organization theory, a Cold War theory about the neuroendocrinological bases of sex, gender identity, and behavior. As van den Wijngaard argues, the redefinition of ‘sex’ happened in response to feminist critiques and the increasing influx of women into the sciences since the 1970s. Van den Wijngaard bases her argument mostly on the discussion of published biological and social science literature, giving preference to female and/or feminist authors.

For the first decade since its inception in 1959, van den Wijngaard shows, brain organization research proceeded virtually unchallenged. But starting in 1971, the advent of second-wave feminism questioned these ideas and led to a gradual reconfiguration of the sex and gender definitions within science; methods were refined, resulting in the abandonment of a one-sex model in favor of a more independent view of the sexes. Van den Wijngaard’s major concern is not to debunk brain organization theory, as, for instance, Rebecca Jordan-Young does in Brain Storm (on my list for John), but to illuminate the extent to which feminism has made a difference in the understandings of “male” and “female” as well as “masculinity” and “femininity” in the network of biomedical sciences, psychology, and psychiatry until 1985, resonating with Schiebinger’s monograph and Creager’s edited volume.

Sex and Scientific Inquiry is a collection of essays previously published in Signs between 1975 and 1987. Philosopher Sandra Harding and political scientist Jean O’Barr edited the volume, which comprises fifteen feminist essays pointing to gendered elements in “The Social Structure of Science” (Part I), “Misuses and Abuses of Science and Technology” that benefit the stabilization of sexist and racist social orders (Part II), sex-difference “Bias in the Sciences” (Part III), “Sexual Meanings of Science” (Part IV), and, finally, reflections on feminist “Epistemology and Metatheory” (Part V). The contributions are very diverse in their length, methodology, disciplinary style, and period covered, from annotated pictures (ch. 3) through research articles in 17th-century alchemy (ch. 5), long historiographical surveys in women’s history of technology (ch. 4), analyses of the policy impact of ‘bad’ genetic science (ch. 6), and biological explanations of the variability in sex differences across populations (ch. 7) to philosophical assessments of the contradictions within feminist science critique, namely that feminist ideas are just as biased as contemporary scientific practice (ch. 15). Despite the wide variety covered, the biological and psy-sciences are the focus of this volume.

Many of the contributions, in particular in the latter half of the volume, revert to Freudian psychoanalysis in their analyses. Patricia Y. Miller and Martha R. Fowlkes, for example, provide an entertaining reading of the works of several sex researchers, concluding that S. Freud’s andro- and hetero-centrism permeate the work of Kinsey, who encouraged females to engage in premarital intercourse in order to satisfy male sexual needs, and the writings of Masters and Johnson, who described the vagina as a tool for heterosexual reproductive intercourse that can best function in the context of a healthy marriage (ch. 8). Evelyn Fox Keller (ch. 12) concludes her psychoanalytic study of the emphasis on objectivity, autonomy, dominance, and power in science “as an oedipal project” (p. 243) with the assertion that science is not per se bad and that feminists can change it, a notion very similar to Helen Longino and Ruth Doell’s assessment of the feminist qualms and hopes surrounding the biases towards sex differences and female inferiority in evolutionary biology and endocrinology (ch. 9).

Barbara Laslett et al.’s edited volume Gender and Scientific Authority is the sequel to Sex and Scientific Inquiry, comprising fifteen papers published in Signs in the 1980s and 1990s. In the editors’ words, it is “a continuation and a revision of the perspectives” in the 1987 volume (p. 1). In the 1996 volume, “sex” is replaced by “gender” as an analytical category, “science” is defined more broadly, including medicine and the social sciences, and race as well as non-‘Western’ cultures get a little bit more airtime. The papers, organized in four parts, are methodologically diverse; most of them discuss gender in a manner that is rather anthropological, philosophical, or sociological than deeply historical—seemingly a characteristic shared by feminist science critiques despite Scott’s conviction that thorough history using gender as an analytical category could advance science and societal structures. Exceptions to this trend are some of the chronologically organized historical studies in Part II, which deal with episodes of the exclusion of women from the 19th and 20th centuries sciences.

Part I addresses critiques of standpoint theory, for instance, by means of elaborating on the irreducible uniqueness of “Black Feminist Thought,” resulting from the experience of “add[ed] layers of oppression” (p. 31; ch. 1), and by suggesting epistemological adjustments through which standpoint theory can be saved from slipping into relativism that would forbid any political action (ch. 3). Part III focuses on the ‘scientific’ construction of sex differences in the realm of the social and psy-sciences. These case studies exemplify “the intersection of the social and the scientific” (p. 9), for instance, in the overlap between lesbian accounts, journalistic sensationalism, and sexological definitions of the female homosexual in the US around 1900 (ch. 8) or the observation that M. Charcot visually diagnosed his lower-class patients while S. Freud preferred to listen to his privileged clientele (ch. 9). Finally, Part IV attends to more contemporary instances of gendered scientific discourse. Most famously, Emily Martin’s paper “The Egg and the Sperm” (ch. 12) is part of this chapter. Other contributions look at the gendering of intersex infants (ch. 13), the use of primatology as a determinant of ‘natural’ development (ch. 14), and the influence of state reproductive policies on the private procreational life of individuals in China (ch. 15).

Science and Social Inequality is a collection of papers written and revised by Sandra Harding; earlier versions of the chapters were published or presented in public in the 1990s and early 2000s. The essays provide an overview of Harding’s endorsement of the standpoint theory (particularly ch. 5) and the past achievements of “heterogeneous” feminisms (p. 68); with this collection, Harding aims at stimulating a debate on “how better to harness modern Western sciences for social justice projects” (p. ix).

Harding starts off Part I, “The Social World of Scientific Research,” by justifying feminist and postcolonial science studies with the argument that it is unconceivable that so-called Western science was not constructed in a way that it served white imperial supremacy (ch. 1). The following chapters lay out the specific problems of science that Harding wishes to combat. First, the restriction of judgement of the truth of scientific theories—and of the paradigms more broadly—to a circle of initiated members of the community (ch. 2). This point connects closely to the dismissal of other traditions of knowledge (ch. 3). Second, scientists’ refusal to take responsibility for any harm that is done on physical, social, political, or epistemological levels as soon as their science leaves the site of research (ch. 2). Third, the denial of specific “sociologies, ethnographies, political economies, and histories” (p. 80), which she sees systemically intertwined with the ‘nature’ that the ‘natural’ sciences investigate into (ch. 4)—even in “good science” (p. 80), not only in the flawed science of a few misogynists, racists, classists, etc. (ch. 5). She mentions, for instance, “discriminatory social structures” in scientific institutions (p. 69), “sexism and androcentrism in the results of research” (p. 72), as well as anti-democratic ways of teaching science and technology. Fourth, the subjugation of the environment and ‘the West’s’ neighbors in the form of pollution, exhaustion, and colonialization (ch. 6).

Three chapters in Part II define the “political unconscious of modern Northern sciences” (p. 115) as a contradictory mix of democratic and anti-democratic values within both the practice of science and contemporary philosophy of science. Very concretely, Harding argues that “all sciences must be ‘ethnosciences’” (p. 140) and abandon “truth claims, which are “dysfunctional” (p. 133), in order to gain a more objective view of the world. In her final chapter, Harding explains why accepting the premise that the ‘Western’ system of knowledge does not have ‘the truth’ does not necessarily lead to a “damaging [epistemological] relativism” (p. 146) that leaves us without any tools to assess the aptness of a hypothesis, a concern also uttered in Gender and Scientific Authority. Rather, Harding suggests to work towards a multiplicity of sciences and philosophies of science that humbly provide the best possible interpretations of the world within a specific social and cultural network of individuals (ch. 9).

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