Epistemic credibility and women in philosophy

By Fiona Jenkins

 

Abstract

Women in philosophy are disproportionately under-represented at elite institutions, and publishing patterns can be analysed to show that the ‘top’ journals publish articles by women at rates significantly lower than even the levels of women who have made it into tenure at these elite universities. In such journals, the type of epistemology that Lorraine Code describes as ‘immune to feminist critique’ is dominant, assuming that neutrality is the benchmark for knowledge, and that knowers float free of the encumbrances of situation. It is right to worry, as Code does, that feminist and critical race theory hold an increasingly fragile place in disciplinary philosophy and that disciplinary philosophy itself is thereby the loser. The question of how to reinvigorate radical projects of contestation is both urgent and vexing. To align this issue with the under-representation of women in philosophy poses its own problems, as this article explores: for women need not be feminist philosophers, and feminist philosophy can be a project of assimilation into the mainstream as much as it can be a project of radical transformation of disciplinary norms. There may be something to learn, however, both about equity in the academy and the fate of critique by considering the relation between prevailing institutional conditions, disciplinary trajectories and the gendering of prestige in the academic sector.

Citation: Jenkins, F. (2014). Epistemic credibility and women in philosophy. Australian Feminist Studies, 29(80), 161-170.

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