The research group in feminist philosophy

Research in feminist philosophy covers all disciplines of philosophy. The group has chosen to focus predominantly on two areas:

(1) Mechanisms and conditions that advantages men and disadvantages women, especially with regards to their career paths. Some of the concepts we are using for analysis are epistemic injustice, implicit bias, etc. We have a bi-weekly reading group which engages with these topics.

(2) Philosophy History: Reconstruction and critique of the philosophy canon through the study of women in philosophy history. We have a bi-weekly reading group on Mary Ellen Waithe's History of Women Philosophers.

The underrepresentation of women is a particular challenge for philosophy. Internationally, there is a lot of research on identifying the reasons for this and practical measures that can contribute to change. The group, therefore, has the practical objective of helping to understand, criticize and find solutions adapted to the situation at the Department of Philosophy and First Semester Studies (IFF). The research interests above reflect this practical goal as well.

 

Reading group on women in the history of philosophy

In the reading group on women in the history of philosophy we read the four volume work of Mary Ellen Waithe (ed.) A History of Women Philosohers. An important goal for the reading group is to aquire knowledge on female thinkers in the history of philosophy, since common historical works often give the impression that philosophy is – and has been – a discipline restricted to men. There are more women in the history of philosophy than Hannah Arendt and Simone de Bouvoir, and many of them have played a decisive role in issuing and develop theories we mainly know through their male colleges. Examples on this fact is the pythagoreen thinker Aesara of Lucania and her moral psychological theory of a tripartite soul including reason, temperament and desire, a theory we today normally associate with Plato, and Prinscess Elisabeth of Bohemia, who through her correspondence with René Descartes, contributed to the development of the central mind-body problem in the philosophy of mind. As a part of the activity of the group we write lexicon articles on female philosophers for Store Norske Leksikon. Responsible for the reading group are Trine Antonsen and Fredrik Nilsen.

 

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Reading group in epistemic injustice

The reading group in epistemic injustice focuses on a recently developed area in applied epistemology and feminist philosophy, whose main issue is the relevance and importance of a distinctively epistemic injustice that may befall different marginalized social groups and individuals. An epistemic injustice is, broadly speaking, an injustice that may befall you in virtue of being a knower and an epistemic agent. In the literature, this may occur either because other people fail to believe what you say (testimonial injustice). In particular, where the reason for failing to believe you is that you belong to some socially marginalized group – say because you are a woman or belong to some ethnic or racial minority – about which your interlocutor has one or more negative identity stereotypes. Another way in which you can be treated in an epistemically unjust way is if you lack certain crucial notions for understanding your own marginalized social situation (hermeneutic injustice). In particular, if the reason for why you lack these notions is that some majority group fail to be properly sensitive to your situation when they develop the notions that dominate a culture’s understanding of themselves and others. The classical example here is the majority – or male – culture’s failure to develop a notion like sexual harassment – this notion was in fact developed by feminist activist groups during the so-called third-way feminist movement – with the result that many women utterly failed to understand and interpret undue sexual attention as their being a victim of wrongdoings within a hierarchical system of power relations and male domination.

Our starting point in this group has been Miranda Fricker’s pioneering work on epistemic injustice – viz. her book Epistemic Injustice – Power and the Ethics of Knowing issued in 2007 – where she analyses the phenomenon within a virtue theoretic epistemological framework as well as situation it within the broader issues of feminist philosophy. Our plan is to dive deeper into the discussions of these sorts of injustices that have proliferated in a range of different fields in the wake of Fricker’s contribution. Especially, we will focus on those issues and discussions that are relevant from a feminist philosophical perspective. Responsible for the reading group is Kerstin Reibold.