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Feminist Epistemology and James’ Ways of Deriving Truth


Alan Spencer

Humboldt State University, US
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In the following paper I will be comparing two trains of thought in the method of attaining knowledge, or lack thereof. The first critique will be from feminist epistemology headed by Genevieve Lloyd who argues that there is a fundamental difference in the knowledge of men and of women; the female virtues, as she states, have not been given their full voice in epistemology and philosophy in general. These virtues are of receptivity and dependence and most importantly, feelings and associations with the ‘body’ in the Cartesian sense. The males tend to represent the ‘mind’ category of the Cartesian framework as the characteristic of a universal faculty which must attain knowledge only through what Hegel calls “…stress of thought and much technical exertion. I will be comparing this framework to ideas of William James. In the Will to Believe, James gives a critique of Scientific Absolutism as representative of having a dogmatic attitude towards particulars instead of having a particular (empiricist) attitude with a goal towards attainment of content knowledge. All of this comparison will be brought together by an analysis of a combined feminist and pragmatist understanding of knowledge, reason and philosophy. Finally we shall take on a new perspective of the feminist standpoint from Phyllis Rooney who says that any characterization is bound to be tied up with gendered associations that separate and therefore degrade. I intend to argue for the feminist side in respect to the virtues that it may present as perhaps what needed in the modern era.

How to Cite: Spencer, A., 2016. Feminist Epistemology and James’ Ways of Deriving Truth. International Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities, 8(2), pp.15 (139–146). DOI:
Published on 24 Jun 2016.
Peer Reviewed


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