My main area of interest is the philosophy of science with an emphasis in feminist philosophy of biology. I have also done some work in experimental philosophy. My PhD dissertation looks at a new branch of evolutionary psychology called “feminist evolutionary psychology.” I am interested in, descriptively, what the feminist projects of this discipline are, and prescriptively, their strengths and weakness. I am also interested in how successful feminist evolutionary psychology methods and theory are for studying human evolution.
A central theme in my research focuses on the appropriate, effective use and development of philosophical methodology. In the first contribution below, I develop a philosophical methodology for the assessment of what I call morally relevant science. In the next three contributions below, I and my co-authors demonstrate the relevance and importance of using either feminist or empirical methods for philosophical analytical research. My research is supported by a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canadian Graduate Scholarship.
Weaver, S. (2017) The harms of ignoring the social nature of science. Synthese. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11229-017-1479-8.
In this paper I argue that philosophers of science have an obligation to recognize and engage with the social nature of the sciences they assess if those sciences are morally relevant. Morally-relevant science is science that has the potential to risk harm to humans, non-humans, or the environment. My argument and the approach I develop are informed by an analysis of the philosophy of biology literature on the criticism of evolutionary psychology (EP), the study of the evolution of human psychology and behaviour. From this literature, I tease out two different methods of scientific critique. The first I call the “truth-detectional” approach. Those who take this approach are first and foremost concerned about the truth of EP claims as that truth can be determined by evidence. The second I call the “social-dimensional” approach. Those who take this approach talk about the production and truth of EP claims but within a social framework. On this account, the legitimacy and perceived legitimacy of EP claims are not separate from the institutional and social processes and values that lend to their production. I show that the truth-detectional approach risks harms to society and to the philosophy of science, but that the social-dimensional approach avoids these harms. Philosophers of science, therefore, should take a social-dimensional approach to the assessment of morally-relevant science.
Weaver, S. and Fehr, C. (2017) “Values, practices, and metaphysical assumptions in the biological sciences” in Ann Garry, Alison Stone, and Serene Khader (eds) The Routledge Companion to Feminist Philosophy.
The biological sciences provide ample opportunity and motivation for feminist interventions. These sciences are seen by many as an authority on human nature and are highly relevant to many issues of social justice and public policy. Feminist philosophy of biology focuses on the ethical and epistemic adequacy and responsibility of biological claims. This work is critical in the sense of identifying epistemically and ethically irresponsible knowledge claims, research practices, and dissemination of biological research regarding sex/gender, including ways that sex/gender interacts with other social categories. In this chapter we describe classic themes in feminist philosophy of biology, with particular regard to research practices and metaphysical assumptions. We then go on to argue that these classic themes remain salient in contemporary neuroscientific investigations of human emotion and in feminist research on the evolution of human behavior.
Weaver, S. and Turri, J. (in press) “Personal Identity and Persisting as Many,” in Tania Lombrozo, Shaun Nichols and Joshua Knobe (eds) Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy.
Many philosophers hypothesize that our concept of personal identity is partly constituted by the one-person-one-place rule, which states that a person can only be in only one place at a time. This hypothesis has been assumed by the most influential contemporary work on personal identity. In this paper, we report a series of studies testing whether the hypothesis is true. In these studies, people consistently judged that the same person existed in two different places at the same time. This result undermines some influential widely held philosophical assumptions, supports others, and fits well with recent discoveries on identity judgments about inanimate objects and non-human animals.
Weaver, S., Doucet, M. and Turri, J. (2017) It’s what’s on the inside that counts… or is it? Virtue and the psychological criteria of modesty. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 8(3), 653-669.
Philosophers who have written on modesty have largely agreed that it is a virtue, and that it therefore has an important psychological component. Mere modest behavior, it is often argued, is actually false modesty if it is generated by the wrong kind of mental state. The philosophical debate about modesty has largely focused on the question of which kind of mental state—cognitive, motivational, or evaluative—best captures the virtue of modesty. We therefore conducted a series of experiments to see which philosophical account matches the folk concept of modesty. Surprisingly, we found that the folk concept is primarily behavioral. This leads us to argue that modesty may not be a virtue, but that if it is none of the extant philosophical accounts have properly explained why.
For a link to my CV, please click here