The Truth of the Matter

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Mussell, Helen 

jats:pFeminist 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.</jats:p>

5003 Philosophy, 50 Philosophy and Religious Studies, 5002 History and Philosophy Of Specific Fields
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Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Final acknowledgements are due to both the Cambridge Political Economy Society Trust, for their generous and ongoing support, and to the Cambridge Social Ontology Group, for providing an all-important forum for regular discussion on ontological matters.