Strong objectivity

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Strong objectivity is a term first used by standpoint feminist Sandra Harding to describe research that starts from the experiences of those who have traditionally been left out of the production of knowledge. Harding suggests that starting research from the lives of women "actually strengthens standards of objectivity".[1] Strong objectivity can be contrasted with the 'weak objectivity' of supposed value-neutral research[2] [check quotation syntax] From a feminist standpoint, the question of objectivity stems from what kinds of knowledge projects are objective and which aren't, and why; whether or not objectivity is necessary; and how, or if, it is possible to achieve objectivity. These considerations arise at least in part from concerns about sexism and androcentric bias in dominant scientific life and studies.

Standpoint epistemologies require stronger standards for objectivity in the analysis of knowledge. The conventional standard of objectivity is considered too weak to act as a tool for feminism and other social movements. The subject of knowledge must therefore be considered an object of knowledge from the perspective of scientific method. Knowledge and the biases affecting it must be equally judged by the scientific community and located in social history. [3]


Objectivity is the philosophical concept that a state or truth can exist independent of observation; that when an observer is objectively observing something, they are not being influenced by their own perspective. It stands in direct contrast with the concept of relativism, which contends that observation is always influenced by perspective. Strong objectivity argues that how objective an observer is, is relative to their perspective. However this makes strong objectivity indistinguishable from relativism. The objectivity of one observer observing how objective a second observer is being would itself be influenced by the perspective of the first observer.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tickner, J Ann (1997) You Just Don't Understand: Troubled: Enagements between Feminists and IR Theorists, International Studies Quartlery, 41/4: 622
  2. ^ Ritzer, George (ed). Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology. Blackwell Publishing, 2007. Blackwell Reference Online. 8 January 2011 <
  3. ^ Harding, Sandra. "Rethinking Standpoint Epistemology: What is "Strong Objectivity?" Feminist Theory: A Philosophical Anthology. Ed. Cudd, Ann E. and Robin O. Andreasen, 2005. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Further reading[edit]

  • Harding, Sandra (1991) Whose Science? Whose Knowledge? Thinking from Women's Lives. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.