Objectivity and DiversityAnother Logic of Scientific Research

Objectivity and DiversityAnother Logic of Scientific Research

Sandra Harding

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780226241227

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Central assumptions in dominant philosophy of science were reformulated in the context of the encounter of Vienna Circle logical positivism with U.S. McCarthyism and the Cold War. For these mostly Jewish and socialist émigrés from European fascism, insisting on value-freedom, “the view from nowhere”, for science and its philosophy was a political necessity. We live in a world animated by strikingly different social and political impulses. Yet that notion of objectivity is still used to police university research, public debates and international relations. It does so in the face of widely-recognized incompetence to detect and eliminate racist, sexist, class, colonial and other anti-democratic biases from the results of research. This study presents six compelling arguments for standpoint epistemology’s “strong objectivity” that has arisen from social justice research. These projects insist on fairness to the data and to a claim’s severest critics, but are capable of detecting and eliminating from natural and social science research distorting social values and interests that remain invisible to conventional research. Among the foci of these arguments are methodology that reveals the actual relation between the global impoverishment of women and Third World development policy, the reliability of indigenous knowledge and its contributions to biodiversity, how secularisms are distinctive cultural forces on modern Western sciences, and why the pluralism of scientific ontologies and epistemologies should be nourished rather than eliminated or only tolerated. In light of the desired demise of “Mr. Nowhere,” this study also identifies new kinds of “proper scientific selfs” generated in such research.