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Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 26, 2001

Pamela Sue Anderson
Pages 131-153
DOI: 10.5840/jpr_2001_24

“Standpoint”
Its Rightful Place in a Realist Epistemology

This article defends the place of “standpoint” in a realist epistemology. The conception and role of standpoint are proposed to be receptive to the shifting perspectives of actual knowers. A standpoint is distinguished from a spontaneous perspective or mere outlook. In this realist epistemology standpoint will have something to do with background beliefs. but rather than a starting point, it is an achievement gained as a result of a struggle for less biased knowledge. Epistemologists currently employ various conceptions of standpoint. However. the present concern is with a conception that functions to expose the framing influence of the social and material variables constituting complex power relations. Oppression and domination are not as easily elucidated as background beliefs. Confronting the truth of racism, for example. involves not only empirical justification and hermeneutical dialogue but recognition of standpoint in a reflexive and transformative interplay of perspectives.