International Society for History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology

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MONDAY, JULY 6  /  17:30 - 19:00  /  Salle Marie Gérin-Lajoie
Plenary session

Sandra Harding (University of California, Los Angeles, United States)

Social justice movements, such as feminism, anti-racism, decolonialism and postcolonialism, have produced a standpoint methodology more competent to maximize objectivity than the conventional requirement that natural and social science research be value-free. The need for “strong objectivity,” as a complement to the usual standards for value-free objectivity, arises when research communities lack diversity, and are isolated from relevant democratic social tendencies. Research that starts off questioning nature and social relations from the daily lives of economically and politically vulnerable groups can increase its own reliability and predictive power. Such research insists on the conventional goals of fairness to the data and to its severest criticisms. It retains central commitments of the conventional notion of objectivity while escaping its limitations. It also produces new conceptions of the “proper scientific self,” which are, of course, morally challenging. In the natural sciences, biologists have earliest and most extensively developed such methodology. This presentation will highlight these issues.