Yup, it’s all about the pure pursuit of truth

Posted: October 15, 2010 by Jender in feminism isn't philosophy

I am a male philosopher of science, currently a graduate student at a well ranked program. I have learned that one does not even need to be a woman to experience the prejudice against them in philosophy: certain topics become viewed as ‘female,’ and anyone intersted in them has to put up with a bunch of ill informed rants about how those topics ‘aren’t real philosophy.’

More specifically, I am extremely interested in the work of feminist philosophers of science, such as Helen Longino and many others. In my opinion, some of the best, most interesting, and, importantly, most politically engaged philosophy of science of the last 20 years has been done under this heading (even though feminist philosophy of science incorporates many different approaches and positions–it is as heterodox as any other area of philosophy.) My department, however, does not (for the most part) share this interest–and, indeed, a female faculty member warned me from pursuing feminist topics, as she knew my department didn’t really approve of such things. Note that their dismissal wasn’t based on fundamental philosophical disagreement, but rather was just pure uniformed prejudice–I had one professor tell me that a particular feminist philosopher was ‘not very good,’ immediately after admitting he had never read her work. It was very frustrating, and this was my first dose of reality about the academic community–people are not as interested in the pursuit of truth as they claim.

What was really frustrating was that many graduate students had already imbibed this attitude–I had many people laugh in my face when I talked about feminist epistemology: they thought such a thing was crazy at best, and more likely just another instance of special pleading. They were further surprised that a man could be a feminist. Needless to say my poor forehead suffered under the assault of so many head slapping statements.

Although I am still interested in feminist philosophy of science, I am waiting to really start working and publishing in this area until my career is somewhat more underway and established.

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