Publication date:15 August 2003
Length of book:448 pages
PublisherPenn State University Press
As one of the preeminent philosophers of the twentieth century, W. V. Quine (1908–2000) made groundbreaking contributions to the philosophy of science, mathematical logic, and the philosophy of language. This collection of essays examines Quine's views, particularly his holism and naturalism, for their value (and their limitations) to feminist theorizing today.
Some contributors to this volume see Quine as severely challenging basic tenets of the logico-empiricist tradition in the philosophy of science—the analytic/synthetic distinction, verificationism, foundationalism—and accept various of his positions as potential resources for feminist critique. Other contributors regard Quine as an unrepentant empiricist and, unlike feminists who seek to use or extend his arguments, they interpret his positions as far less radical and more problematic.
In particular, critics and advocates of Quine's arguments that the philosophy of science should be "naturalized"—understood and pursued as an enterprise continuous with the sciences proper—disagree deeply about whether such a naturalized philosophy is "philosophy enough." Central issues at stake in these disagreements reflect current questions of special interest to feminists and also bridge the analytic and postmodern traditions. They include questions about whether and how the philosophy of science, as a form of practice, is or can be normative as well as questions concerning the implications of Quine's philosophy of language for the transparency and stability of meaning.
In representing feminist philosophy centrally engaged with the analytic tradition, this volume is important not only for what it contributes to the understanding of Quine and naturalized epistemology but also for what it accomplishes in working against restrictive conceptions of the place of feminism within the discipline.
Aside from the editors, the contributors are Kathryn Pyne Addelson, Louise M. Antony, Richmond Campbell, Lorraine Code, Jane Duran, Maureen Linker, Phyllis Rooney, and Paul A. Roth.