Intemann, Kristen. (2008) Increasing the number of feminist scientists: why feminist aims are not served by the Underdetermination Thesis. Science & Education 17 (10), 1065-1079.
|Title||Increasing the number of feminist scientists: why feminist aims are not served by the Underdetermination Thesis|
|Resource Type||journal article|
|Journal||Science & Education|
Recent feminist philosophers of science have argued that feminist values can contribute to rational decisions about which scientific theories to accept. On this view, increasing the number of feminist scientists is important for ensuring rational and objective theory acceptance. The Underdetermination Thesis has played a key role in arguments for this view [Anderson (1995) Hypatia 10(3), 50–84; Hankinson Nelson (1990) Who knows? From Quine to a feminist empiricism. Temple University Press, Philadelphia; Longino (1990) Science as social knowledge. Princeton University Press, Princeton; Longino (2002) The fate of knowledge. Princeton University Press, Princeton; Kourany (2003) Philosophy of Science 70, 1–14]. This thesis is alleged to open an argumentative “gap” between evidence and theory acceptance and provide a rationale for filling the gap with feminist values. While I agree with the conclusion that feminist values can contribute to rational decisions about which theories to accept, I argue that the Underdetermination Thesis cannot support this claim. First, using earlier arguments [Laudan (1990) in: R. Giere (ed) Minnesota studies in the philosophy of science, vol 14, pp 267–297; Slezak (1991) International Studies in Philosophy of Science 5, 241–256; Pinnick (1994) Philosophy of Science 61, 664–657] I show that Underdetermination cannot, by itself, establish that feminist values should fill the gap in theory acceptance. Secondly, I argue that the very use of the Underdetermination Thesis concedes that feminist values are extra-scientific, a-rational, factors in theory acceptance. This concession denies feminists grounds to explain why their values contribute to rational scientific reasoning. Finally, I propose two alternative ways to explain how feminist values can contribute to rational theory acceptance that do not rely on Underdetermination.