Standpoint Theory’s Methodological ImperativesWilliam Tuckwell (Charles Sturt University), Shang Long Yeo (National University of Singapore)
Arts West 556
Standpoint theory is perhaps the dominant feminist epistemology. Its central claim is the epistemic advantage thesis: that the oppressed are epistemically advantaged with respect to the workings of oppression (e.g., Narayan 1988, Toole 2018, Dror 2022). This is taken to support a further claim, its methodological imperative: that inquiry into the workings of oppression should start from the lives of the oppressed (e.g., Harding 1991; Fricker 1999; Bright 2018). This methodological imperative is straightforwardly zetetic (Friedman forthcoming), in that it bears on how we should conduct inquiry.
There are, however, different ways of understanding the epistemic advantage thesis – differing in the nature and extent of the oppressed’s epistemic advantage, and in the mechanisms that produce and maintain it. In this paper, we canvass different arguments for epistemic advantage, assess their plausibility, and trace their implications for inquiry into oppression – particularly for how we should prioritise questions about oppression on our research agendas, and for how we should actively investigate specific questions about oppression.
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