It is a trope and cliché, abet accurate ones, that the so-called “social sciences” in Academica reject objective reality and substitute “social constructs” with the clear implication that:
“[T] here are female ‘ways of knowing’ that differ from male ways of knowing, implicitly arguing, […] that women can have a ‘feeling for the organism’ that differs from the scientific behavior of males. This is a claim that men, by their very nature, are incapable of finding some truths about nature accessible to women.”
In other words, they feel that science is sexist because women can’t do science.
In simple terms, it is a question of feelz over realz.
There is, to these ignoramuses, no real reality and no true truth, but rather:
“[T]hat science is, in the end, like lit-crit, a farrago of competing claims that can’t be adjudicated. Let a thousand truths blossom! Theyre all true in their own way.”
Clearly, because science is seen as “static and unchanging”, that only the masculine point of view to celebrated as valid, thus science is declared sexist! Furthermore, it is sexist to require knowledge and skills one has learned; it is almost as if these scientists want to deny each student a chance to come up with their own truth!
In other words, a Feminist version of science explicitly embraces multiple truths and multiple realities:
” Instead of promoting the idea that knowledge is constructed by the student and dynamic, subject to change as it would in a more feminist view of knowledge, the syllabi reinforce the larger male-dominant view of knowledge as one that students acquire and use make [sic] the correct decision.”
So, basically, everyone lives in their own extant reality of the multi-verse à la some type of “Crisis on Infinite Social Studies Departments”…
Science is not a construct, but simply a way to better understanding how and by what mechanism things work. It does not assert a truth; it rejects falsehood. As such, it inherently contrary to the existents of contradictory truths.
This feminist view is one of each and everyone reinventing the wheel, with a banana-shaped wheel being equally as valid as a round one. We build knowledge not only over our own lifetimes, but over the lifetimes of the countless generations that came before us. In other words:
“And the something people bring in each episode of learning is prior knowledge they have acquired by systematically investigating and accumulating truths about the world around us. In other words, human beings learn essentially along the lines of the scientific method itself: Through exploring and testing their ideas in relation to a fixed, objective reality (as well as having our ancestors’ experiences passed down to us to save time and forestall repeat mistakes).”
Let us look, now, a bit more directly as specific examples.
So, according to feminist scholars, are all views equally valid? Of course not! Some are clearly “more equal than others” as outlined in the academic paper “Science: a masculine disorder?”:
“Science is based on the professional creation and certification of knowledge which is tied to powerful interest groups, notably the state, corporations an the scientific profession itself. Patriarchy is based on male control of dominant socical structures and the exclusion of women from positions of power through means such as direct discrimination, socialisation and the gender division of labour.
“Patriarchy within the scientific community is manifested through male control of elise positions and various exlusionary devices. The scientific method incorporates masculine features such as the objectification of nature. Scientific knowledge is masculine in its neglect of women’s experience and its adoption of paradigms built on assumptions of competition and hierarchy.
“Four model strategies are analysed for challenging masculine science and building alternatives. Each of these strategies had strengths and limitations. Between them there may be hope for denting masculine-science-as-usual.”
The denigration of boys and men is hardly new, and is oft repeated.
Though this paper was written over thirty years ago, there were plenty of women who were more than capable of working within this “masculine disorder” and even excel as demonstrating and espousing this “masculine disorder” themselves. Today, women at about, or exceeding, parity when it comes to science majors in colleges—both physical sciences and life sciences.
The authors consider science is a “social construction” because it is a “way of examining and ordering the natural world”. In other words, just one of many ways of doing so. The Patriarchy, then uses their particular method to oppress women, meaning that feminist liberation must axiomatically oppose science as it is definitionally a tool of oppression.
Science is not a spiritual understanding nor an aesthetic wonder for each and every person to find within themselves. These things are not alternatives to science, but things that exist in parallel (in a Euclidean sense of the term). It’s basis is in logic and reason; it is not about pushing a belief on reality, but deriving knowledge from reality. Objectivity, then, is seen as a subjective choice because it “enables a distancing between the scientist and the subject matter, hence the results of an experiment.”
Because feminist scholars are obsessed with hierarchy, they must define science as an oppressive example of it:
“Applied to the scientific method, the division of science into disciplines including the ‘hard’ chemistry and physics and softer ‘natural sciences of biology’ sets up a hierarchy. This hierarchy is reflected at a project level whereby large projects are split into more manageable parts and there is a definite division of labour, for example research scientists to provide ideas and research assistants to wash up.”
The division between “hard” and “soft” science isn’t about hierarchy, but about how specific and exacting one can get. In a “hard” science, variables can be closely controlled and experiments be more readily created in a laboratory from scratch. As the science becomes less “hard” and more “soft”, the variables become more complex and numerous, with the effects thereof more difficult to control and impossible to create from scratch in a laboratory. “Harder” sciences don’t need models or broad frameworks; they are more exacting or specific, specific aspects can be more finely tuned and tested. “Hard” vs. “Soft” does not indicate one is better than the other, only there are differences in the parameters and limits of each.
The division of labor, between a master and apprentice does indeed constitute a hierarchy of teacher and learner. But this is not a form of oppression, but of bringing the apprentice/student up to the level of the master/teach. Hardly oppression.
The dismissal of biology, amongst other sciences, as simply a “construct” that substitutes for this realz for the politicized metaphysics of ontology and affect, the later of which is literally about the experiencing of emotion, or feelz, as noted in the by the academic paper entitled “Pathologies of Affect ¶ The ‘new wounded’ and the politics of ontology”.
But what is this proposed “Feminist Science” supposed to be like? The abstract of the academic paper “Structuring Feminist Science”, by of all people a molecular biologist, gives a hint:
“Many calls for a feminist science have ended with the disclaimer that there is no way to imagine such a science from within an androcentric society. Making the attempt requires dealing with two broad questions: ‘Is all or some of science socially constructed?’ and ‘By what features is science recognized?’ The strategy used here involves defining the components as we know them, asking if they are socially constructed, and, if they are, how they could be changed to be less androcentric. The conclusion is that all of science may be androcentric, and the approach to attaining feminist science may need to be radical, a total replacement of the scientific enterprise with one not based on the scientific method. Alternatively, we may accept a modification of current science, a ‘feminized’ science (defined as doing the same science differently), as consistent with the political goal for feminist scientists.”
Is all or some of science socially constructed? Only in that the scientific method, specific techniques, and hypothesized were devised by human minds. But the scientific method can not be “andocentric” or have any intersectional aspect. The scientific method, et al., developed and evolved over generations into what it is today. It is about determining what happens—about is rather than ought—and how what happens can be determined though methods that bring us closer to a better understanding of the truth by rejecting demonstratable falsehoods. The scientific method involved testing and trying to figure out how to question the results via further testing. Science is about doubt, not belief. One does not believe scientific results and knowledge, one simply lacks doubt to one degree or another.
There is a clear conflation of science with political ideologies. This type of conflation leads to the Thule Society and Lysenkoism. Replacing “androcentric” science with a Feminist one, then, isn’t just about changing methods and views, but a political necissity to conquer and overthrow Patriarchy. By so conflating science with social studies and political ideologies, science can, when in conflict, we deemed to be wrong and be made to adhere to some broader pseudo-spiritual truth. Interpretations from results, even when exemplifying the scientific method, can very—but this is far, far different than to set forth the idea that an objective reality exists.
The author goes on to state that:
“The concept of a nucleic acid (or whatever sort) as a reservoir of genetic information which is read out to determine genetic specificity has been challenged as a hierarchical construct which should be abolished. At some point, biologists must consider how an organism or a cell interacts with its environment.”
Different interactions with different environment does not change that DNA will act like DNA, and the any differences in the way it acts in response to external conditions is simply a clarification of in what manner DNA acts, not that DNA acting the way it does is due to some “social construct”.
The author further demonstrates a certain gendo lysenkoism with the complaint that the presence or absence of a Y-chromosome and it’s “master gene” is problematic and states that it’s really just a plethora of ovary-determining and testis-determining genes. While there are conditions that cause a person to develop physically contra to the lack or presence of a Y-chromosome, does not negate that the Y-chromosome is indeed a “master” gene in that it is the key determiner for so much else. That a condition may interfere with this does not mean that the Y-chromosome is relegated to just one amongst many similar genetic sequences on a co-equal basis.
Even such rather straight forward things as the Ideal Gas Law are considered “gendered”, as noted in “Gender in the Substance of Chemistry”, a two part series of academic papers. Aside from using “Atkins’ Physical Chemistry” as the basis for the author’s criticism (there are far better physical chemistry books out there), the author errs in trying to turning physical chemistry, a science, into a “philosophy of chemistry by: “identifying the ceneptual structure of the theory … and analyzing the concepts for the philosophical idead they contain … link the philosophical ideas to cultural value systems … [and finally] “sketch an alternative model which is the obverse of the current one in all the aspects that … [are] problematic from a feminist point of view. In other words, turn science into a philosophy, impose a predetermined philosophical conclusion, and then turn it back into a feminized “science”.
The complaint is about the apparent “philosophy” of the Ideal Gas Law. The Ideal Gas Law can be stated by the following equation:
PV = nRT
Wherein “P” stands fro pressure, “V” stands for volume, “n” stands for the number of molecules of the gas, “R” is a constant to balance out values and dimensions, and “T” is the temperature.
The actual non-philosophical description of the Ideal Gas Law is actually decent enough; the problem lies in swaying away from the per se science:
“From a philosophical point of view, however, the basis of solution ideality is the same as the basis for gas perfection, namely, the lack of interaction between constituting parts (between gas molecules, and between liquids A and B, respectively).”
That’s not how it works. Even though the Ideal Gas Law is only an approximation, it is taught because the general relationships hold to be generally true and are good for “back of the book” calculations when exactness isn’t required, and exact parameters are not readily available, such as determining if heating a vessel of given volume cause the pressure to exceed the pressure that the vessel can safely hold without exploding.
The Ideal Gas Law also serves to better teach students the overall relationship of volume, pressure, temperature, and quantity. From an over idealized model that is grokked, the more complex real-life examples can be better understood, to better to be able to, as differntiated in German, from Kennen to Weißen. This is about practicality and making teaching easier, not some broader philosophical question. This isn’t about meaning, but rather about knowing.
Scientific laws aren’t proscriptive but descriptive; only in the sense that the described results can be used predictively can science be said to be prospective, but certainly the results per se do not and can not be determinative.
Furthermore, by analogizing scientific results to the political and the philosophical, they cease to be scientific. Science isn’t about morality, principles, cultural values, or gender ideology; science can only inform—or misinform—individuals in this regards.
Of course, what is modern Feminism if not Intersectional Feminism, as noted in “Functionalism, Darwinism, and intersectionality”. And one of the more prominent intersection with Feminism is race.
The question of science and racism will be discussed subsequently.
The articles in question, for critique and criticism: