In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Feminist Epistemology

  • Introduction
  • Textbooks and Overviews
  • Bibliographies
  • Anthologies
  • Empiricism
  • Naturalized Epistemology
  • Standpoint Epistemology
  • Postmodernism
  • Virtue Epistemology
  • Pragmatism
  • Hybrid Views
  • Postcolonial Epistemology
  • Social Epistemology
  • Continental Approaches
  • Androcentrism
  • Women in Science
  • Objectivity
  • Values in Science
  • Rationality
  • Experience
  • Skepticism
  • The Nature of Standpoint
  • Situated Knowledge
  • Subjugated Knowledges
  • Epistemic Authority
  • Credibility, Trust, and Testimonial Injustice
  • Epistemology of Ignorance
  • Feminist Moral Epistemology
  • Racism
  • Implicit Bias and Stereotype Threat
  • Critics of Feminist Epistemology
  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • Social Sciences
  • Archaeology
  • Biology
  • Evolutionary Biology and Psychology
  • Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Primatology
  • Medicine
  • Ecology and Climate Change
  • Physics

Philosophy Feminist Epistemology
Alessandra Tanesini
  • LAST REVIEWED: 30 January 2014
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 January 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0158


Feminist epistemology and philosophy of science is the study of the significance of gender for the acquisition and justification of knowledge. At its inception, feminist epistemology was in large part concerned with science and showed more affinity with the history and philosophy of science and with social and cultural studies of science than with mainstream epistemology. Since the early 2000s, however, significant new trends have led to the production of extremely innovative work, such as a turn toward a conception of matter as being in some ways like an agent in science studies, as well as a focus on topics at the interface between ethics and epistemology in feminist epistemology.

Textbooks and Overviews

Feminist debates in epistemology range over topics that were not often addressed by mainstream epistemologists, although the overlap has increased in recent years since the explosion of interest in social epistemology. Furthermore, much of the early work in feminist epistemology was more accurately described as feminist philosophy of science, due to its focus on issues of evidence, methods, and objectivity in the natural and social sciences. Anderson 2011, Janack 2004, and Jones 2005 all provide comprehensive surveys of the main position and of some of the topics that have attracted the most interest among feminist epistemologists. Kourany 2005 and Wylie, et al. 2010 provide surveys of feminist philosophy of science. An overview of the relation between mainstream and feminist epistemology can be found in Antony 2006 (cited under Social Epistemology) Tanesini 1999 and, more recently, Potter 2006 are easily accessible, and each provides a detailed account of the main positions held by feminist epistemologists. Duran 1991 defends the view that feminist epistemology is a kind of naturalized epistemology.

  • Anderson, Elizabeth. “Feminist Epistemology and Philosophy of Science.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by Edward N. Zalta. 2011.

    Comprehensive survey of the main views in feminist epistemology and philosophy of science. Provides an overview of feminist empiricism, standpoint epistemology, and postmodernism, and discussions of objectivity, value-ladeness, and epistemic injustice.

  • Duran, Jane. Toward a Feminist Epistemology. Savage, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1991.

    An early defense of the view that feminist epistemology should be naturalized; offers a discussion of both Anglo-American and French feminist philosophical reflections on knowledge. This book offers a distinctive and original approach to the field.

  • Janack, Marianne. “Feminist Epistemology.” In Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by James Fieser and Bradley Dowden. 2004.

    This is a good overview of the field; it was written in 2004 and thus is missing some of the most recent developments.

  • Jones, Karen. “Feminist Epistemology.” In Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2d ed. Vol. 3. Edited by Donald M. Borchert, 574–578. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005.

    A nice overview of the field, complete with an extensive bibliography.

  • Kourany, Janet A. “Feminist Philosophy of Science: Contemporary Perspectives.” In Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2d ed. Vol. 3. Edited by Donald M. Borchert, 593–598. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005.

    This is a comprehensive survey that includes an excellent bibliography.

  • Potter, Elizabeth. Feminism and Philosophy of Science. London and New York: Routledge, 2006.

    A comprehensive and up-to-date discussion of both empiricism and standpoint epistemology. This book will be of particular interest to those who think these two positions can be reconciled.

  • Tanesini, Alessandra. An Introduction to Feminist Epistemologies. Oxford: Blackwell, 1999.

    One of the most comprehensive introductions to the entire field. It has chapters on the main positions in the area, such as empiricism, standpoint epistemology, naturalized epistemology, and postmodernism, as well as on some key topics such as objectivity and reason.

  • Wylie, Alison, Elizabeth Potter, and Wenda K. Bauchspies. “Feminist Perspectives on Science.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by Edward N. Zalta. 2010.

    A survey of the main issues concerning feminist methodologies in the social and natural sciences, preceded by an overview of the obstacles faced by women in the sciences. This article constitutes an excellent entry point to the field as a whole.

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