I have some limited availability for popular audience talks, guest lectures, and class visits in philosophy and the natural sciences. Please email me to collaborate.
In this course, our guiding questions are:
Is there a legitimate role for political values in scientific knowledge production?
If there is a legitimate role for political values in scientific knowledge production, why should those values be feminist?
To answer them, we will explore the ways that feminist epistemologists and philosophers of science have characterized a positive role for feminist values in scientific theory and practice. We will evaluate what these mean for traditional accounts of science as objective and value-free. We’ll consider how these arguments might inform our thinking about how science ought to be done, and by whom. Using examples from contemporary scientific practice, we will attend to possible role(s) political values might play in the production of both ``good science” and epistemologies of ignorance. Finally, we will ask what feminist epistemology can tell us about the structure of scientific communities, the authority and trustworthiness of scientific explanation, and about philosophy of science itself.
Living well is difficult: it involves making difficult decisions for ourselves, for people we care deeply about, and for people in our care, and it requires navigating complicated relationships. Clinical medicine and public health are contexts where the stakes for these tasks are especially high, where we often disagree about what to do, and where reaching any decision at all is philosophically and emotionally laborious. This course is designed to help you do this work, by offering philosophical frameworks with which to evaluate what values might be most important to you and to those around you, and to assess how these relate to the specific context at hand. We will approach this by examining cases of ethical problems in medicine and public health, including abortion, eugenics, disability, consent, surrogate decision-making, public health surveillance, and the distribution of health resources.
A major goal of contemporary biology is to make sense of, and appropriately value, diversity. But diversity in biology extends beyond the differences among living organisms: biologists also claim to offer distinct types of explanations, appeal to disparate sources of evidence, and rely on a variety of strategies to make and marshal knowledge of the natural world. While sophisticated methods make these practices seem increasingly objective, they are also entangled with different and conflicting narratives of identity, politics, and belonging. In this course we will evaluate conceptual issues in biological research with an eye toward their social contexts and consequences.