Feminist course questions if science can be ‘objective’

Hobart and William Smith Colleges will offer a feminist theory course next year that questions whether science can truly be “objective.” 

Philosophy 250: Feminism: Ethics and Knowledge” is a sophomore-level course taught by Karen Frost-Arnold, a philosophy professor who also teaches classes such as “Power, Privilege, and Knowledge” as well as “Introduction to Women’s Studies.” 

“This course examines various feminist critiques of traditional approaches to ethics and to knowledge,” explains the course description, noting that the first half of the class will cover morality, while the latter half focuses on epistemology.

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“Historically, how has science contributed to the subordination of women?” the course description asks. “Are social and political considerations relevant to science? Is it possible for science to be ‘objective?’” 

Though the description implies that students will debate whether science can be objective, the professor appears to have already made up her mind, as she ends the course description by asking “What can be done to make science less biased?” 

The course will also explore the shortcomings of traditional philosophy, asking, “Are traditional moral theories adequate for addressing the problems that women face? Do women tend to think about morality differently than men do? What is ‘feminist ethics?’”

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The class is one of many feminist-themed courses offered by the school, such as “Topics in Feminist Health,” which will teach students about issues such as “feminist nutrition” and “feminist science studies.” 

Others include “Feminist Theater,” which will explore how “feminist theater practitioners work in coalition with other social justice movements,” and “Food, Feminism, and Health,” which will explore “gendered food practices.”

Campus Reform reached out to Hobart and William Smith Colleges for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication. Professor Frost-Arnold also did not respond.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen