Ontology and gender: critical realism and the method of contrastive explanation

Over the last 15 or 20 years, some sort of elective affinity has been established between feminist epistemology and various kinds of post-modern constructivism. This has been done to the extent that both postures question the possibility of a neutral and universal knowledge relative to subjects that are conceived in terms of totalizing, homogeneous, and closed identities. However, in spelling out the dangers of essentialism and overgeneralizing, many concepts and categories which are central to the feminist theory have been questioned, generating an increasing skepticism about the possibility of emancipatory knowledge. My aim in this paper is to demonstrate that critical realism's replacement of epistemological questions for ontological ones and its method of contrastive explanations may contribute to the construction of a type of knowledge that is both critical and emancipatory. Simultaneously, this is a type of knowledge that avoids practices such as a priori universalization, overgeneralizing, and essentialism.

Gender; Ontology; Critical realism; Contrastive explanation

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