Feminist Epistemology without Knowing Subject?
Departamento de Lóxica e Filosofía Moral, Facultade de Filosofía
Universidade de Santiago de Compostela
15706 Santiago de Compostela- Galicia (Spain)
ABSTRACT: The main purpose of this paper is to think about the problem of knowing subject in feminist epistemology. The notion of feminist epistemology has been a recurring one in the feminist scholarship and literature of the past ten to fifteen years. Thereby, we try to explain what feminist epistemology means and which of its trends is more interesting in relation to the problem of subjectivity. Our paper intends to show the thoughts and tensions both of the scope of knowledge and in the political scope, that are linked to the issue of the knowing subject and that make up a basic part of the present debate of the feminist theory.
A good part of the philosophical reflection on knowledge developed in the twentieth century focuses almost exclusively on scientific knowledge. We can mention the works of two authors, namely Popper and Kuhn, given all the implications they had for subsequent studies. Karl R. Popper was linked to the Vienna Circle in his early life, though he did not adhere to the main theses of this group. His criticism of induction stands out as a basic element of his philosophy, together with his idea that observations are theory-landen, and his establishment of a new criterion of scientific demarcation – falsification. Thomas S. Kuhn became a landmark in the philosophy of science of the twentieth century when he published The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in 1962, which would have an influence in many subsequent sociologist and historians of science, and even in scientists themselves, who incorporated in their vocabulary part of Kuhn’s terminology. The main debate established between the two thinkers lies in the importance that social and historical conditions must have in shaping scientific knowledge.
In his paper “Epistemology without Knowing Subject”1, which has inspired the title of our work, Popper claims that, when analysing the products of human knowledge, it is not the production processes but the products themselves what has to be studied. Therefore, there is no point talking about a knowing subject; it is necessary to get past the subjectivist philosophy that since Descartes and the classic empiricism has focused on the description of the subject’s cognitive processes. On the other side, it is well known that Kuhn sees social and historical factors as playing a fundamental role in the construction of knowledge by the scientific community. This author opened a whole trend of science’s social studies. And it is among the so-called post-Kuhn approaches where the feminist epistemology is usually included.
In the following paragraphs, we would like to introduce some of the problems of feminist epistemology, namely the issue of subjectivity in both a restricted sense, when applied to knowledge and science, and in a broader one, when understood as a political subject. We would like to emphasise the basic role of the idea of situation, from which a good part of the contemporary feminist debate arises.
The feminist movement has made a great effort to unveil the silenced work developed by women through history. Two main strategies were used to do it. On the one hand, an effort was made to value what has been traditionally seen as culturally characteristic of women, that is, to revalue the female world. On the other hand, the feminism has shown the way in which many women were hushed up by the official history, when they succeeded in entering a field that was not seen as their own. Both approaches intertwined very often, and this search of women sometimes requires to question the changes appeared in traditionally well-settled discourses on the basis of the perspective they have as women.
Among these women-recovering genealogical works devoted to construct an alternative memory, those related to the scientific scope stand out2. The thought about women in the history of science lead to a parallel analysis of the reason for their scarce representation in it, and to a revision of the androcentrist biases that might be found in a science developed without women. It is clear that these three research programs, as Harding3 terms them, have themselves considerable importance. However, their theses also played an important role in the construction of a new research program, which had an even more revolutionary goal, namely that of questioning the very conceptual framework within which scientific knowledge and the studies on this knowledge are developed. These thoughts, analyses and proposals came to be known as feminist epistemology, which is the term normally used to include all the studies on knowledge, mainly scientific knowledge, that are developed from feminist parameters.
Sandra Harding4 classified the different female authors dealing with epistemology into three basic trends: feminist empiricism, feminist standpoint theory and feminist postmodernity. In the following paragraphs, we briefly explain the basic elements of each trend.
a) Feminist empiricism originated from the feminist research focused on biology and life sciences. The first thinkers interpreted the androcentrist bias of science as a lack of accuracy and precision in the implementation of the scientific method; the authors presented their works as intending to denounce “bad science”. They saw sexism and androcentrism as social bias that can be corrected by implementing the scientific method accurately. This first period is known as spontaneous empiricism, and served to lay the foundations of a second period, the philosophical feminist empiricism. In this second period, given the assumption that science could never involve neutral assessments – not even the so-called “good science” – both the conceptual framework and the key concepts of empiricism were revised. Helen Longino and Lynn H. Nelson stand out as the main representatives of the philosophical feminist empiricism.
b) The feminist standpoint theory is not exclusively focused on the issue of knowledge and its implications. It actually involved a real methodological revolution in feminism, and gave rise to a precise way of directing feminist research, which could be exported to many different disciplines. This approach was originally developed in the context of the Marxist tradition. The authors supporting this approach claim that, in any historical period, the prevailing world view is a clear reflection of the interests and values of the dominant group. Women, as a group traditionally excluded from power circuits, occupy a special social position that gives them a privileged epistemological standpoint, a less distorted world view than the one imposed by middle-class white males. In this way, we can say that the feminist standpoint theory is based on two main ideas: a) all knowledge is located, since it is a practical and social construction; b) one special location, that of women, is more reliable, as it provides a privileged standpoint to unveil some types of truth. This trend has also evolved since Nancy Hartsock first formulated it in the early eighties. From the theory that supported the existence of a privileged knowledge and a real truth, new positions were adopted under the influence of postmodern theories, where knowledge is described as being located in the different lives of the social agents. A considerable number of theoreticians have devoted their efforts to develop this new perspective, even if they do not use the same terminology. Among them, we can include the already mentioned Nancy Hartsock, Dorothy Smith, Sandra Harding, Patricia Hill Collins and Evelyn Fox Keller.
c) Harding called the third group of this classification feminist postmodernism. This approach would have as a common element the denial of the two previous trends, and the inclusion of other variables apart from that of gender in the analysis of knowledge, in an attempt to give account of the fragmented identities of the present culture. It is necessary to make clear that the level of debate and the variables involved in this third trend, some of them with political elements, make it difficult to exactly determine what is actually comprised under this notion of postmodernism5– which includes poststructuralism, new-Nietzschean theories and subjective theories. We can mention Donna Haraway and Susan Hekman as the main representatives of the trend.
Among the wide range of perspectives and analyses offered by feminist epistemologists, we want to bring together three elements that are common to all their developments.
First, we must emphasise their common rejection of the dichotomy science/politics. The feminist view claims that it is necessary to get past the dichotomy facts/values; the positivist ideology of science that isolates science from values, ethics and politics is seen as something abandoned. Feminist theoreticians reject therefore the use of the notion of “bad” theories to name those theories that are clearly slanted to favour the interests of a given group, since they think that every single theory, even the “good” ones, is determined by the prevailing values of a given society.
This recognition of the role developed by social values in the scientific practice involves the necessity of questioning the traditional model of epistemic agent – knower – seen as dispassionate, disinterested, autonomous and disembodied. This questioning of the knowing subject directs the research towards two main points. On the one hand, and this is the second common element of the female epistemologists, the relation between observer and observed objects is emphasised by means of introducing the subjective elements as valuable elements in the cognitive process. Feminists see the elimination of the emotive dimension of the human being as a consequence of the ideological attempt of the western culture to subjugate all those persons whose ways of approaching knowledge differ from that of the male abstract rationality. One of the most frequently quoted works in this context is the one developed by Evelyn Fox Keller on the scientific life of the geneticist Barbara McClintock. Keller introduces quite an alternative research approach based on watching and listening, which tries to get rid of the rigid borders between object and subject. Some of the ecofeminists’ proposals are also based on this idea of establishing a new relationship with the known object, which is more relational and less powerful.
Finally, the third common element is the second direction adopted by feminist theoreticians when dealing with the knowing subject. The objective here is to gain insight into the Who Knows6, that is to discover who this knowing subject really is, that has been object of so many theoretical works in the scope of epistemology. And it is on this third point that we are going to focus our analysis.
The epistemological tradition that developed with Descartes from the seventieth century onwards, and that is expressed in the twentieth century in analytical philosophy and neopositivism, sees the construction of knowledge as an individual project in which the main task of epistemology consists in formulating the rules that allow individuals to carry out that project successfully. One of the most important issues both of rationalism and empiricism was the possibility of establishing an objectivity cannon, understood as a completely neutral standpoint, that is, the view of an abstract individual that reflects neither group interests nor private emotions.
The feminist theory has criticised this tradition and focused with more interest on the points already commented on in the previous part. Specifically, the abstract individualism of traditional epistemology became the most controversial point in the feminist reshaping of the knowing subject. That is why some authors such as Jaggar7 emphatically criticise liberal feminism and what they consider as being its concomitant epistemology, the empiricist one, which still understands human nature in an individualist way. Jaggar is clear on that point, these principles of empiricism cannot be modified because they are the very conditions that make this form of empiricism possible; therefore, it cannot be an adequate concept for a feminist project. However, the authors we mentioned before as representatives of the philosophical feminist empiricism do make interesting proposals that challenge individualism. Before we go deeply into their study, let us briefly explain what this individualist conception consists in. The characteristics of the abstract and individual subject of traditional epistemology can be summarised in four basic points:
a. The knowing subject is culturally and historically invisible and disembodied, because knowledge is universal by definition.
b. The subject of scientific knowledge is different from the objects it tries to describe and explain, since it is determined both timely and spatially.
c. Knowledge acquisition takes place in individuals or groups of individuals that show no class, gender or race specific features.
d. The subject is homogeneous and unitary, since knowledge must be consistent and coherent.
As we can see, individualism advocates the presence of a clear division between knower and known object, which tries to eliminate the values of the cognitive process. At the same time, it supports the necessity of assuming a conception of objectivity that is identified with a given value, that of neutrality. In clear opposition to that conception, feminists have accepted the challenge of replacing the model of isolated knower, and finding more dynamic models in which individuals are studied in relation to their community. According to Helen Longino8, the feminist view has developed different strategies to replace this view of a transcendent universal subject. The first strategy consists in changing this so-called universal subject the feminists accuse of being androcentrist, and replace it with a new one. The way in which this replacement is carried out depends on the main principles of the school the different theoreticians belong to. Once they had shown the bias of this subject’s conception, feminist empiricists, who are comprised in the first stage of empiricism, would advocate the production of the ideal neutral subject supported by empiricism. Standpoint theoreticians – Longino quotes specifically Hartsock – establish the primacy of the epistemic agent, which is conditioned by the social experience of dominance. Finally, Longino includes as part of this first strategy the theories of Evelyn Fox Keller referred to the psychodynamics of individualisation. Keller proposed a redefinition of the concept of autonomy, and its new understanding as the capacity of establishing relationships with the world, making therefore disappear the classic borders between subject and object.
The second strategy is the one advocated by the author herself, which consists in multiplying the subjects. Let us devote some paragraphs to analyse this proposal. Longino claims the feminist contribution lies in seeing scientific knowledge as something constructed not by individuals that apply a method to the material reality they seek to know, but by individuals that interact with each others. This dynamic interaction involves the individuals’ changing their observations, theories, hypothesis and thinking patterns. As we can appreciate, scientific knowledge is the result of a dialog between individuals and the different scientific communities; that is, knowledge is constructed not by individuals but by an interactive dialogic community9.
Communities are groups that share an assessing, social and cultural context. Feminist criteria must be established in the bosom of these communities, so that knowledge can be acquired in a domination-free context. There is no risk of yielding to relativism, even if we abandon the cognitive values considered as standards, which regulate the discursive interactions within the scientific community independently from the context and with universal status. This is because of the function of communities that will locally adopt their own standards, through which they will be able to achieve their aspirations of truth. Longino understands this position as pluralist and not anarchist10 at all, since it is just that these standards – like the aspirations that ground them – are provisional and subject to modification as a consequence of interaction with other communities as well as with the world a community seeks to know.
To sum up, we can say that Longino considers scientific knowledge as a social practice where the knowing subject is not the individual but the “epistemic communities”. The communities are responsible for the application of a series of criteria in those research contexts that clearly raise the problems affecting women more frequently – biology, medicine, social sciences. The feminist work consists in acting locally in the different contexts in which theories are hatched, by using feminist criteria that can vary over the years, and with the intra- and intercommunity dialog. Consensus is the final goal, but without forgetting that the world exists – minimal form of realism – and that we can gain access to it through the senses, which suffer from relevant data only in given social contexts where theories are formulated.
Another empiricist author, Lynn H. Nelson, concurs with Longino that communities are the place where knowledge originates. The appropriate loci of philosophical analyses of science are science communities, with the standards, theories and practices of such communities the appropriate loci of philosophical explanations and evaluations of scientific practice.
The author considers that the importance given to communities by most authors in the development of knowledge is one of the newest contributions of feminism to epistemology, therefore accepting without any doubt that the defence of empiricism is not restricted to individualism, as it had been traditionally thought. All the theories on feminist empiricism she presents in her book lead her to assume that the knowing subject – Who knows is the community and not the individuals. Individuals have knowledge in a derivative way; that is, as long as they belong to a given community, where they learn a language, and as long as they are able to associate a meaning to the sensory stimuli by means of a series of evidence standards shared by the community. She develops this idea in more detail in a paper titled “Epistemological Communities”. In this work, she describes the agents of epistemology as individuals with a certain body that are placed in a specific social and historic context. In accordance with this claim, and with her compromise to the importance she grants to “situation” in feminist epistemologies, she assumes that gender is an essential element of the knowing subjects. Nelson establishes three objectives that have to be fulfilled by this approach: first, it has to escape from the idea of the individual as an empty container that assimilates knowledge without being a source of activity; second, the conception of subject must not be an isolated point but a real link to the remaining characteristics of her epistemology and, finally, it has to be compatible with the feminist experiences.
It is necessary to emphasise the interest the author has in defending the knowing subject against potential developments of postmodernist epistemologists, especially Hekman’s, though she also makes reference to Harding and Haraway. Nelson is clear about the necessity of replacing the present dichotomy in the scope of general epistemology and specifically in the philosophy of science, as she thinks it would have no benefits at all for the feminist standpoint. The dichotomy she makes reference to can have different forms: modernity / postmodernism, cartesianism / abandoning of epistemology, objectivism / relativism; all of them involve, in Nelson’s view, a loss for feminism, since the main objective is to achieve a philosophy that values construction without lapsing into hyperconstructivism, which prevents the subject from choosing between different versions of the world. Nelson claims that communities as knowing agents play a dynamic role, since they construct knowledge through history, whereas they are limited by experience because not every construction adapts to reality in the same way – this is in accordance to the explaining power some of them have in front of the others. Therefore, Nelson’s theory is that the community is the knowing agent because of the social nature of evidence; our experiences are social, and sensory stimuli only make sense within a give community. If this were not true, how would feminists advocate a theory as being better that another that is androcentrist? Yet the problem is: can feminists develop evidence patterns that are an alternative to the ones they receive within a given community?
Nelson does not see a problem in these questions; she takes scientific communities as the model of epistemological community, though we can also identify different subcommunities that deviate from the standards of the first communities. The author claims that within the general community there are different communities, all of them sharing common sense, and each of them having an specific knowledge and specific evidence standards; but we can even find subcommunities that contribute new knowledge and new standards.
To sum up, we can say that Nelson’s proposal starts from the assumption that knowledge is a process that involves subjects; that is, individuals with a specific body and placed in a given historical and social context. And it is just in this situation, what she also calls experience, where gender becomes an important analytic category. The author claims that the epistemological subjects are the communities, whereas the individuals that make communities up share and construct both knowledge and the evidence patterns. The author tries to base the importance of feminist theories on those evidence patterns, since the objective of feminist empiricism is to construct evidence models within the limits of experience that can be explained taking account of gender differences.
Sandra Harding stands out among the feminist epistemologist both for her theoretical effort about the feminist epistemology itself and for her advocacy of the feminist standpoint theory. She claims it is necessary to develop a new notion of subject. She considers the feminist standpoint theory to be the only capable to bring about a change in the conceptual framework, which makes the redefinition of basic epistemological notions possible, such as objectivity, subject, rationality... She is especially interested in developing a new notion of objectivity, what she calls Strong Objectivity. The main requirement of this notion is to value and take account of the situation of the knowing subject. So situation must permeate all the characteristics of the new idea of knowing subject based on the feminist standpoint theory. Against the cultural and historical disembodiment of the knowing subject advocated by classical empiricists, Harding suggests that it is necessary to embody the subject in its material life and make it visible. Instead of maintaining the difference between subject and object, both elements must be placed in the same causal level. While the subject is based on material and social life, the object has a discursive nature that arises from the materiality of the subject itself. Harding thinks these characteristics lead communities to be the real producers of knowledge, instead of the individuals. Finally, the feminist knowing subject is multiple, heterogeneous and contradictory or incoherent, in contrast to the homogeneous and unitary subject of the empiricist conception. That is why women’s lives, when seen not in an essentialist way, but in accordance with the feminist standpoint theory, can meet this requirement.
The thought of Sandra Harding is very influenced by Donna Haraway’s theses. This author, who radicalises the thesis of partiality, in what has been seen as a postmodernist perspective by some authors, claims that all knowledge is situated knowledge. This is the perspective Haraway adopts when she defends the thesis that the projects of a feminist science require an understanding of objectivity as situated knowledge.
Situated knowledge is the representation of the partial perspective of women, who have to link their theoretical and political problems to the mental and physical space where they live, that is, to their reality. She rejects the idea of knowledge seen as a view from nowhere, a universal view. She also advocates the elimination of the split between subject and object, since all knowledge is situated knowledge. The “knowing I” is always partial and never finished; it is under ongoing construction, so it can be linked to another without being the other, and this is what scientific objectivity means, the search of the other as a subject, not the identity. It is what the author terms partial connection. To sum up, we can say that Donna Haraway deals with the issue of subjectivity by means of advocating a situated subject. Where? In its material life. With which knowing opportunities? With those offered by its own view that intertwines in a network of located views that make up reality. With capacity to define themselves as women? It depends; in any case, with capacity to perceive an unfair situation from which they can establish a connection to other common experiences and resist, and even construct a new identity metaphor: the cyborg.
Despite the differences between the feminist empiricists, the standpoint theory and the postmodern perspectives, it has been proved that the theoreticians mentioned in the previous part share two important ideas concerning their conception of subjectivity. They all think classic epistemological individualism has to be rejected and the importance of community revalued. They also emphasise the role situation plays in the shaping of the knowing subject. The notion of situation seems to be a central element in the feminist thought as a whole, and especially in that focused on subjectivity. We can say that, already since Simone de Beauvoir, trying to explain who women are involves a revision of the situation in which they develop their lives and the way this affects their experience.
In our opinion, one of the most enlightening works in this respect has been Linda Alcoff’s work. This author claims that subjectivity, or the subjective experience of being a woman, is made up by the position women hold. This concept of “positionality” does not mean that the external characteristics of the context determine women just as if they were empty and passive containers. On the contrary, positionality means that identity is in relation to a changing context, to a situation that includes the network of elements concerning other subjects, economic situations, cultural and political ideologies and institutions, etc. Women are seen as part of a fluid and historicized movement and therefore as contributing actively to that context. Alcoff thinks the external situation determines the relative situation of women, in the same way that a piece’s position on the chessboard can be seen as safe or risky, powerful or weak depending on its relation to the other pieces on the board. If women can be identified by means of the position they hold within this relationships’ network, a feminist vindicating movement can be founded not on the assertion of their innate capacities, but on their position within the network, that of lack of power and mobility, which requires a radical change.
Therefore, Alcoff sees the concept of positionality as involving two basic elements. First, the notion of women is a relational term that can only be identified within a given (constantly changing) context; second, the position held by women can be actively used as a localisation for the construction of meaning, a place out of which meaning is constructed instead of a place where meaning can just be discovered. The concept of woman as positionality shows how women make use of their positional view as a place where values are interpreted and constructed and not as a locus determined by a given set of values.
There are notions similar to that presented by Alcoff, which in our opinion can be related to Beauvoir’s idea of subjectivity understood as situation. They are Celia Amorós’ idea of “plausible subject” and Seyla Benhabib’s notion of identities, which are plurally constructed by means of a narrative model. From her position in the essentialist tradition, Celia Amorós advocates a notion of “plausible subject”, which escapes both the postmodern interpretation of subject as uncreated being, and the notion of being as generator of absolute sense, and recovers the Sartrian characterisation of a subject that is provided with transcendence capacity in relation to assigned characteristics or given situations. Amorós actually criticises the radical nominalist perspective, but recovers the modernity’s legacy of nominalism as a shaping agent of a new notion of subjectivity arisen in the Enlightenment. Taking a similar perspective, Seyla Benhabib emphasises the narrative nature of identity. She claims that the subject is more than just a position in language, since it has agency and the capacity of changing history; it is the who, able to carry out an enlarged thought and getting involved in the relationship with the other. Benhabib sees the subject as being determined by a number of plurally shaped identities, where it is difficult to weight the importance of race, gender and class and where, strangely enough, the resulting value differs from the sum of its parts.
We can put an end to this paper by saying that Popper tries to eliminate subjectivity from the reflections on knowledge, so that the asocial and apolitical nature of knowledge products can be preserved. The feminist perspective revalues exactly the subjective and social elements, with the objective of reshaping the knowing subject. Since the social issue is a basic element in the construction of knowledge, feminists must be able to introduce the values of equality and democracy in the axiological negotiation. Feminist epistemology, rather than advocating an epistemology without knowing subject, suggests that it is necessary to explain WHO the subject/s IS/ARE, who knows what, with which goals, with which interest, with which agency, etc.
Going back to the question that titles this paper, we suggest that it is not a question that can be confined to a debate within the scopes of epistemology or philosophy of science. On the contrary, both the origins of its formulation, as well as the way in which debates have developed in the last years – in relation to the three positions briefly outlined in this paper – might be understood as a political issue, that links the question of the knowing subject to that of reshaping the political subject of “women”. In the scope of knowledge, the efforts try more or less successfully to escape both the Cartesian traditional subject and hyperconstructivism as they could lead to an absence of subject. And in the same context, the efforts made in the political scope seek to escape both the essentialised “female” subject, and the radical anti-essentialist positions that would lead to the impossibility of shaping a political subject. In other words, and expressed in more political terms, behind the epistemological issue, we could find the liberal, socialist and multicultural positions.
Therefore, whereas in the philosophical-political scope, the question of the subject, or of the subject’s absence, the question of the group versus the individuals, and the question of redistribution or cultural recognition give rise to the debate on the new subjectivity, when we adopt an epistemological perspective, we have to face the problem of reshaping versus eliminating the subject, of the epistemic communities versus the abstract individual, of impartiality versus situation. We understand that the notion of situation deserves a more detailed study that exceeds the possibilities of the present paper. Likewise, and due to the same reason, we do not make reference to other notions such as “experience of women” or “representation”, which we think are relevant to the issue of subjectivity.
These tensions arising out of contemporary reflections can only be understood within the framework of construction of a new subjectivity, where feminism, both in epistemology and in politics, more that being just present, is and should be an active part in the transformation process, since questions are not settled and new ones will be brought about.
 POPPER K.; Obxective Knowledge, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1973.
 ALIC M.; El legado de Hipatia. Historia de las mujeres en la ciencia desde la Antigüedad hasta fines del siglo XIX. México, Siglo veintiuno editores, 1991.
GRIFFIN S., Woman and Nature. The roading inside her. New York, Harper & Row Publishers, 1978
MERCHANT, C. The Death of Nature, San Francisco, Harper & Row Publishers, 1983.
GRIFFIN S., Woman and Nature. The roading inside her. New York, Harper & Row Publishers, 1978
 HARDING, S .; The Science Question in Feminism, Cornell University Press, N. Y. 1986.
 HARDING, S .; ibidem.
 In Susan Hekman’s opinion, this third trend could be understood as an evolution of the feminist standpoint theory. She thinks it is more accurate to term it postmodern feminist standpoint theory. See HEKMAN, S,: “Truth and Method: Feminist Standpoint Theory Revisited” in Signs, vol.22, nº 2, 1997.
 Tittle of the work of one of the authors mentioned in this paper, Lynn H. Nelson.
 JAGGAR, A. M.; Feminist Politics and Human Nature, Brighton, Harvest Press, 1983.
 LONGINO, H.; "Subjects, Power and Knowledge: Description and Prescription in Feminist Philosophies of Science" in ALCOFF L. y POTTER E. (eds.); Feminist Epistemologies, N.Y., Routledge, 1993.
 LONGINO, H.; ibidem (page 112)
 In the sense in which Feyerabend uses the term.
 LONGINO, H.; "Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Values in Science: Rethinking the Dichotomy" in NELSON L. H. y NELSON J. (eds.); Feminism, Science, and the Philosophy of Science, Dordrecht, Kluwer, 1996 (page 55
 L. H. NELSON; "Empiricism without Dogmas" in NELSON L. H. y NELSON J. (eds.); Feminism, Science, and the Philosophy of Science, Dordrecht, Kluwer, 1996 (page 101)
 NELSON L. H.; Who Knows, Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 1990.
 NELSON L. H.; "Epistemological Communities" en ALCOFF L. y POTTER E. (eds.); Feminist Epistemologies, N.Y., Routledge, 1993
 Nelson advocates a realist ontology that we can describe as minimalist like Longino’s one; that is, there is an outside “reality” we had not invented but which is shaped in community.
 HARAWAY D.; Ciencia cyborgs y mujeres, Madrid, Cátedra, 1995.
 ALCOFF L.; "Cultural feminism versus poststructuralism: the identity crisis in feminist theory" in Signs, vo13, nº 3, 1988.
 Some revisions of Simone de Beauvoir’s thought describe the problem of subjectivity in her work as a challenge of Descartes’ subject, which arises from the notion of “subject in situation”. This can lead to link the author to the theories of some thinkers that are closer to postmodernism. In this regard, see:
ADÁN, C.; "Entre a modernidade e a posmodernidade: Simone de Beauvoir", in Agora, vol. 18, nº2, 1999 (forthcoming).
HEINÄMAA, S.; “What is a Woman? Butler and Beauvoir on the Foundations of the Sexual Difference”; in Hypatia, vol. 12, nº1, 1997.
KRUKS, S.; "Gender and Subjectivity: Simone de Beauvoir and Contemporary Feminism" in Signs, 1992, vol. 18, nº1.
 AMORÓS, C.; Tiempo de feminismo, Madrid, Cátedra, 1997.
 BENHABIB S. et al; Feminist Contentions, N.Y., Routlegde, 1995.