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Anatomy and Culture: A New Feminist Methodology

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Title: Anatomy and Culture: A New Feminist Methodology
Author: Butchart, Amy
Department: Department of Philosophy
Program: Philosophy
Advisor: Goldenberg, Maya
Abstract: In this dissertation I propose, and defend, a new form of feminist empiricism in the philosophy of science—especially the philosophy of medicine. This feminist empiricism, which is a modified form of Longino’s critical contextual empiricism, is focused on the development of a methodological account of how feminists concerned with theorizing the body should engage with those studying the body in the life sciences. I take the eating disordered body as my object of study, arguing that any sufficient descriptions of anorexia and bulimia nervosa presuppose a great deal of dialogue between feminists working on the body from a largely cultural perspective and scientists working on the body based on the rigors of their various fields. I develop and describe criteria that guide such dialogue, pointing out some commitments for the feminist who wishes to enact meaningful change within epistemic communities that have typically been wrought with systematic inequalities. I then relate this discussion to current views in feminist philosophy regarding the social role of science in knowledge-production and the new role that scientifically informed feminists can play in said knowledge-production, arguing for a novel account of how feminist criticism, informed by a rich politics of the body, might make for a more inclusive and comprehensive study of the body that is, nonetheless, palatable to those working within the life sciences.
Date: 2014-02
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