Sandra Harding  

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"Sandra Harding referred to Newton's Principia Mathematica as a "rape manual" in her 1986 book The Science Question in Feminism, a characterization that she later said she regretted." --Sholem Stein

"Science is politics by other means" by Sandra Harding in Whose Science? Whose Knowledge? (1991)

"Carolyn Merchant, who wrote a book called "Death of Nature," and Evelyn Keller's collection of papers called "Reflections on Gender & Science" talk about the important role that sexual metaphors played in the development of modern science. They see these notions of dominating mother nature by the good husband scientist. If we put it in the most blatant feminist terms used today, we'd talk about marital rape, the husband as scientist forcing nature to his wishes."--“Does Ideology Stop at the Laboratory Door? A Debate on Science and the Real World.” New York Times, October 22, 1989, section 4, p. 24, Sandra Harding

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Sandra G. Harding (born 1935) is an American philosopher of feminist and postcolonial theory, epistemology, research methodology, and philosophy of science.

She has developed the research standard of “strong objectivity,” and contributed to the articulation of standpoint methodology. This kind of research process starts off from questions that arise in the daily lives of people in oppressed groups. To answer such questions, it “studies up”, examining the principles, practices and cultures of dominant institutions, from the design and management of which oppressed groups have been excluded. She has also contributed to the development of feminist, anti-racist, multicultural, and postcolonial studies of the natural and social sciences, asking the extent to which paradigms like feminist empiricism are useful for promoting to goals of feminist inquiry. She is the author or editor of many books and essays on these topics, and was one of the founders of the fields of feminist epistemology and philosophy of science. This work has been influential in the social sciences and in women/gender studies across the disciplines. It has helped to create new kinds of discussions about how best to relink scientific research to pro-democratic goals.

During what is known now as the "Science Wars", she was part of a debate regarding the value-neutrality of the sciences. This aspect of her work has been criticized by the mathematicians Michael Sullivan, Mary Gray, and Lenore Blum, and by the historian of science Ann Hibner Koblitz.

Harding referred to Newton's Principia Mathematica as a "rape manual" in her 1986 book "The Science Question in Feminism", a characterization that she later said she regretted.




  • (ed.), Can Theories be Refuted? Essays on the Duhem-Quine Thesis, 1976.
  • The Science Question in Feminism, 1986.
  • with Jean F. O'Barr (ed.), Sex and Scientific Inquiry, 1987.
  • (ed.), Feminism and Methodology: Social Science Issues, 1987.
  • Whose Science? Whose Knowledge?: Thinking from Women's Lives, 1991.
  • (ed.), The ‘Racial’ Economy of Science: Toward a Democratic Future, 1993.
  • Is Science Multicultural? Postcolonialisms, Feminisms, and Epistemologies, 1998.
  • with Uma Narayan (ed.), Decentering the Center: Philosophy for a Multicultural, Postcolonial, and Feminist World, 2000.
  • with Robert Figueroa (ed.), Science and Other Cultures: Issues in Philosophies of Science and Technology, 2003.
  • with Merrill B. Hintikka (ed.), Discovering Reality: Feminist Perspectives on Epistemology, Metaphysics, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science. Second Edition, 2003 (1983).
  • (ed.), Feminist Standpoint Theory Reader, 2004.
  • Science and Social Inequality: Feminist and Postcolonial Issues, 2006.
  • Sciences From Below: Feminisms, Postcolonialities, and Modernities, 2008.
  • (ed.), The Postcolonial Science and Technology Studies Reader, Duke UP 2011
  • Objectivity and Diversity: Another Logic of Scientific Research, 2015.


  • 1973. “Feminism: Reform or Revolution?” Philosophical Forum (Boston) 5, 271–284
  • 1979. “The Social Function of the Empiricist Conception of Mind,” Metaphilosophy 10 (Jan 1), 38–47
  • 1979. “Is the Equality of Opportunity Principle Democratic?” Philosophical Forum (Boston) 10 (Dec 1), 206–22
  • 1982. “Is Gender a Variable in Conceptions of Rationality: A Survey of Issues,” Dialectica, 36 (Jan 1): 225–42
  • 1983. “Why Has the Sex/Gender System Become Visible Only Now,” in Discovering Reality, ed. Sandra Harding and Merrill Hintikka
  • 1987. “The Method Question,” Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy 2, 19–35
  • 1987. “The Curious Coincidence of Feminine and African Moralities,” Women and Moral Theory, ed. Eva Feder Kittay and Diana Meyers
  • 1990. “Starting Thought From Women’s Lives: Eight Resources for Maximizing Objectivity,” Journal of Social Philosophy 21(2-3), 140-49
  • 1990. “Feminism, Science, and the Anti-Enlightenment Critiques,” in Feminism/Postmodernism, ed. Linda Nicholson, 83-106
  • 1992. “After Eurocentrism? Challenges for the Philosophy of Science,” PSA 1992 Vol. 2, 311–319
  • 1993. “Rethinking Standpoint Epistemology: What Is ‘Strong Objectivity’?” in Feminist Epistemologies, ed. Linda Alcoff and Elizabeth Potter
  • 1995. “‘Strong Objectivity’: A Response to the New Objectivity Question,” Synthese, Vol. 104, No. 3, pp. 331-349
  • 1998. “Women, Science, and Society,” Science, New Series, Vol. 281, No. 5383 (Sep 11 1998), 1599-1600
  • 2002. “Must the Advance of Science Advance Global Inequality?” International Studies Review, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Summer), 87-105
  • 2003. “How Standpoint Methodology Informs Philosophy of Social Science,” in Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of the Social Sciences
  • 2004. “A Socially Relevant Philosophy of Science? Resources from Standpoint Theory’s Controversiality,” Hypatia, Vol. 19, No. 1, 25–47
  • 2005. “‘Science and Democracy:’ Replayed or Redesigned?” Social Epistemology, Vol. 19, No. 1, 5–18
  • 2006. “Two Influential Theories of Ignorance and Philosophy's Interests in Ignoring Them,” Hypatia, Vol. 21, No. 3 (Summer), 20-36
  • 2007. “Modernity, Science, and Democracy,” in Social Philosophy Today, Volume 22. Philosophy Documentation Center
  • 2008. “How Many Epistemologies Should Guide the Production of Scientific Knowledge?” Hypatia, Vol. 23, No. 4, 212-219
  • 2009. “Postcolonial and Feminist Philosophies of Science and Technology,” Postcolonial Studies, Vol. 12, No. 4, p. 410-429
  • 2010. “Standpoint Methodologies and Epistemologies: A Logic of Scientific Inquiry for People,” World Social Science Report 2010, 173-5
  • 2012. “Objectivity and Diversity,” in Encyclopedia of Diversity in Education, ed. James Banks
  • 2017. “Latin American Decolonial Studies: Feminist Issues,” Feminist Studies, Vol. 43, No. 3, 624-636
  • and Kathryn Norberg, 2005. “New Feminist Approaches to Social Science Methodologies: An Introduction,” Signs, Vol. 30, No. 4, 2009-15

See also

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