Epistemology of science concerns itself with the nature and possibility of scientific knowledge. Science is a human practice and takes place in a social context. But do we need to think about the social situatedness of scientific practice to understand what scientific knowledge is? Is good science necessarily uncontaminated by its social context? Is the ideal of socially uncontaminated science itself socially contaminated? Whether it is or not, is socially uncontaminated science even possible? Focusing largely (but not exclusively) on the phenomenon of gender, we'll examine a variety of responses to (and responses to responses to) these questions. We'll draw upon the writings of both traditional epistemologists and their feminist critics, as well as upon historical case studies of particular sciences (including genetics, chemistry, primatology, sociology, endocrinology, and quantum physics).
Suggested background: Two prior courses in some combination of philosophy, science or women's studies.