Dr. Sharyn Clough: "Feminist Philosophy of Science"

January 17: (Philosophy Department Colloquium)

Dr. Sharyn Clough (Oregon State University)
Title: Feminist Philosophy of Science
Time: Friday, Jan 17th, 2:30 PM
Location: CLE A203

Abstract: As a feminist philosopher of science, my research focus is on the concept of objectivity in science, especially as it is deployed in biomedical sciences. Many people (perhaps a majority of them) think that if scientists let their political values affect their research, then those values will interfere with the objectivity of the research. The situation is presumed to be even worse when non-scientists, such as politicians, or otherwise politically-motivated individuals or groups, such as feminists, try to influence scientific research. I think, however, that much depends on what we mean by political values, objectivity, and scientific research. I argue that once we get clearer about what we mean, we’ll find that political values affect scientific research all the time, but not always for the worse, sometimes for the better. This is counter-intuitive: I need to show that and how we can make the distinction between political values that affect science for the better, and those that affect it for the worse. I admit that, as with everything, we might get the distinction wrong in particular cases. But, I argue, there are ways to check. And we might get it right. More than ever, it is important that we get it right.