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The truth of the matter

Mussell, Helen 2016. The truth of the matter. Hypatia 31 (3) , pp. 537-553. 10.1111/hypa.12258

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Feminist standpoint theory (FST) has a troubled history that has limited its use and development as a core feminist epistemological project. This article revisits debates from its past, and re‐examines an apparent central problem: that of the realism identifiable in FST. Looking closely at the criticism leveled against one particular standpoint theorist—Nancy Hartsock—I show the criticism not only to be unfounded, as has previously been argued, but also unnecessary. I demonstrate that the accusations of supposedly realist contradictions in Hartsock's work are easily resolvable by engagement with critical realism (CR). I argue that CR not only accommodates Hartsock's conception of realism, and so dissolves any contention, but that CR complements and shores up FST's central claim: that situated knowledge carries with it an epistemic privilege. Another contemporary conception of realism is being developed—New Materialism (NM)—that, it could be argued, would also be a suitable ontology with which to develop FST. I show how NM could present problems for FST as a fundamentally political project, and conclude that CR offers a more fruitful future collaboration for FST.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0887-5367
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2020 11:00

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