Heidi Grasswick

George Nye & Anne Walker Boardman Professor of Mental and Moral Science

 Monday 10-11:15, Wednesday 3:40-4:30, Thursday 1:15-2:15, and by appointment. Note: due to college committee work, office hours may need to be re-scheduled occasionally. If possible, confirm ahead of time.

Heidi Grasswick earned her Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Minnesota. Originally from the west coast of Canada, she also holds a B.A. from University of Victoria (Honors in Philosophy) and an M.A. (Philosophy) from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her teaching interests include feminist philosophy, environmental philosophy, theory of knowledge and issues of science and society. She also regularly contributes to the Women’s and Gender Studies curriculum at Middlebury through both cross-listed philosophy courses and senior seminars.

Professor Grasswick’s primary research areas are feminist epistemology, and social epistemology—examining the social aspects of knowledge production. Much of her writing concerns our responsibilities for knowledge-seeking and their connections with moral responsibilities. She is currently completing an edited volume devoted to Feminist Epistemology and Philosophy of Science. Her newest research project focuses on issues of trust between scientific and lay communities, and responsibilities for the sharing of knowledge.

For more information on Professor Grasswick's teaching and research please visit her webpage.



Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

FYSE 1424 - Science & Democracy      

Science and Democracy
The scientific method has been heralded as inherently democratic, based as it is on observation rather than authority. Yet the relationship between science and democracy is much more complex, with scientists carrying authority based on their specialized knowledge. In this seminar we will explore the challenges of integrating science and democracy, investigating how science can be used to serve democratic goals and where there are tensions. We will consider such questions as whether or not the commercialization of science makes it difficult to serve the needs of a diverse society well, whether or not it is important to have diverse representation within scientific communities in order to produce objective knowledge, and what the appropriate role of scientific experts might be in developing sound public policy on topics such as climate change, health policy, medical research, and food safety. 3 hrs. sem. CW PHL

Fall 2014

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NSCI 0500 - Independent Research      

Independent Research
Students enrolled in NSCI 0500 complete individual research projects involving laboratory or extensive library study on a topic chosen by the student and approved in advance by a NSCI faculty advisor. This course is not open to seniors; seniors should enroll in NSCI 0700. (Approval required)

Spring 2012

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PHIL 0180 - Introduction to Modern Logic      

Introduction to Modern Logic
Logic is concerned with good reasoning; as such, it stands at the core of the liberal arts. In this course we will develop our reasoning skills by identifying and analyzing arguments found in philosophical, legal, and other texts, and also by formulating our own arguments. We will use the formal techniques of modern propositional and predicate logic to codify and test various reasoning strategies and specific arguments. No prior knowledge of logic, formal mathematics, or computer science is presupposed in this course, which does not count towards the PHL distribution requirement but instead towards the deductive reasoning requirement. PHIL 0180 is not open to students who have already taken PHIL 0280/LNGT0280. 3 hrs. lect./1 hr. disc. DED

Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015

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PHIL 0214 - Science and Society      

Science and Society
Scientific theories are not developed in a vacuum. Social circumstances influence the practice of science, and science, in turn, influences how we organize ourselves as a society. This course will investigate both directions of the relationship between science and society. We will ask such questions as: how do the values of society drive scientific research? What do we mean when we claim that science is 'objective' and what do we expect of an objective science? Can there be 'good' politically-motivated science, or does this conflict with the norms of 'good' science? How important is science as a way of bettering society? Do scientists bear an extra burden of responsibility when they generate scientific results of particular social significance (such as the development of the atomic bomb, or the development of techniques of cloning)? We will examine particular cases of socially significant scientific research, and we will consider larger philosophical questions concerning the status of science, given its interconnections with society. 3 hrs. lect. PHL SOC

Fall 2011, Fall 2013, Fall 2015

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PHIL 0234 / GSFS 0234 - Philosophy & Feminism      

Philosophy and Feminism
This course will examine the contributions of various feminists and feminist philosophers to some of the central problems of philosophical methodology, epistemology, philosophy of science, metaphysics, and ethics. Are there gendered assumptions in operation in the way particular philosophical problems are framed? For example, do the politics of gender contribute to accounts of objective knowledge and rationality? Are some philosophical perspectives better suited to the goals of feminism than others? We will also examine the general relationship between feminism and philosophy, and we will reflect on the relevance of theorizing and philosophizing for feminist political practice. CMP PHL

Fall 2013, Fall 2015

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PHIL 0351 - Theory Of Knowledge      

Theory of Knowledge
What is knowledge, and what, if anything, can we know? What is the difference between knowledge and opinion, and how can we justify our knowledge claims? Many have understood epistemology as forming the core of the discipline of philosophy. Plato's Theaetetus will set the stage for our investigation of the many problems and themes of epistemology. Our investigations will cover a variety of historical and contemporary approaches, including versions of scepticism, foundationalism, coherentism, and naturalized epistemology. Finally, we will consider the role of epistemology within philosophy today, given the numerous challenges it faces from both inside and outside of Philosophy. (Previous course in philosophy or waiver) PHL

Spring 2011

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PHIL 0356 - Philosophy & Environment      

Philosophy and the Environment
In this course, we will examine several environmental issues from a philosophical perspective. We will be interested in what arguments can be provided to support particular views, but more important, we will try to identify the deep philosophical issues that underlie particular debates. For example, what is the basis for our determinations of value? We will also examine the challenges that large scale environmental issues present for particular philosophical theories. For example, how well can particular ethical theories handle certain environmental problems? Topics may include animal rights, wilderness preservation, biodiversity, attitudes toward nature, over-population, and economic arguments for the protection of the environment. (Previous course in philosophy or waiver) 3 hrs.lect. PHL

Spring 2012

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PHIL 0406 - Responsibility      

Moral responsibility is considered one of the defining features of personhood: persons, unlike nonpersons (such as animals, objects, and possibly, some human beings) are moral agents and can be held accountable. We will look in depth at how philosophers have analyzed moral responsibility. What are the necessary conditions of moral responsibility? What role does free will play? Is moral responsibility distinguishable from the ideas of praise and blame? We will also examine attempts to expand the concept of responsibility beyond individuals by considering whether and how we share responsibility for the harms perpetrated by our communities. (Designed for junior and senior majors; open to others by waiver.) PHL

Fall 2011

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PHIL 0434 / GSFS 0434 - Feminist Epistemologies      

Feminist Epistemologies
In recent years, feminist epistemologies, such as feminist standpoint theories and feminist empiricisms, have been extremely influential in developing social theories of knowledge. They have also served as a crucial intellectual tool for feminist theorists trying to understand the connections between social relations of gender and the production of knowledge and ignorance. In this course we will investigate some of the major themes and challenges of feminist epistemologies and feminist philosophies of science: How is knowledge socially situated? What does it mean to look at knowledge through a gendered lens? How is objective knowledge possible according to feminist epistemologies? We will work to understand the influence of feminist epistemologies in contemporary philosophy. We will also consider how feminist epistemologies have guided research on gendered and raced relations. (Approval required; Open to philosophy and GSFS senior and junior majors. GSFS majors must have previously taken GSFS 0320, or permission.) 3 hrs. sem. CMP PHL

Fall 2014

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PHIL 0500 - Resrch In Philosophy      

Research in Philosophy
Supervised independent research in philosophy. (Approval requiredl.

Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Winter 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016

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PHIL 0700 - Senior Thesis      

Senior Thesis
(Approval Required)

Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Winter 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016

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WAGS 0500 - Independent Study      

Independent Study
(Approval Required)

Spring 2011, Spring 2012

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Selected Publications

“Knowing Moral Agents: Epistemic Dependence and the Moral Realm.” In Out from the Shadows: Analytical Feminist Contributions to Traditional Philosophy. Ed. Sharon Crasnow and Anita Superson, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Feminist Epistemology and Philosophy of Science: Power in Knowledge. Ed. Heidi E. Grasswick, Dordrecht: Springer, 2011.

“Liberatory Epistemology and the Sharing Knowledge: Querying the Norms”. In Feminist Epistemology and Philosophy of Science: Power in Knowledge. Ed. Heidi E. Grasswick. Dordrecht: Springer, 2011.

“Scientific and Lay Communities: Earning Earning Epistemic Trust through Knowledge-sharing” Synthese 177, 2010. 387-409.

“Feminist Social Epistemology.” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Edward N. Zalta (ed.), November 2006.

“Individuals-in-Communities: The Search for a Feminist Model of Epistemic Subjects.” Hypatia. 19 (3), 2004. 85-120.

“The Impurities of Epistemic Responsibility: Developing a Practice-oriented Epistemology.” In Recognition, Responsibility and Rights: Feminist Ethics and Social Theory, edited Hilde Nelson and Robin Fiore. Roman and Littlefield, 2003.

Feminist Epistemology as Social Epistemology. Special issue of Social Epistemology. Guest Editor (with Mark Owen Webb). 16 (3), 2002.

“The Normative Failure of Fuller’s Social Epistemology.” Social Epistemology. 16 (2), 2002. 133-148.


Selected Recent Presentations

“Epistemologies of Ignorance, Standpoint Theory, and Climate Change Science” FEMMSS4 (Feminist Epistemologies, Methodologies, Metaphysics and Science Studies) Conference, Pennsylvania State University, May, 2012.

“Understanding Epistemic Normativity in Feminist Epistemology.” Invited conference “The Ethics of Belief” University of North Florida, October, 2011.

“Scientific Authority within Democratic Societies. ” Invited workshop: Generating Trustworthy Knowledge: Some Contributions from Feminist Epistemology” University of British Columbia, June 2011.

Pacific American Philosophical Association Meetings “Knowledge for Whom? The Question of ‘Significance’ in Feminist Epistemology”  San Diego, April 2011.

IAPh (International Association of Women Philosophers) Conference “The Cross-boundary Issues of Feminist Philosophy of Science: Community Relations as an Epistemic Issue.” University of Western Ontario, June 2010.

“Feminist Philosophy of Science and Community Relations” FEMMSS3 (Feminist Epistemologies, Methodologies, Metaphysics and Science Studies) Conference, University of South Carolina March 2009.

“Scientific Communities and Knowledge-sharing: Earning Epistemic Trust.”Pacific Division American Philosophical Association,  Pasadena CA., March 2008. Mini-conference: Making Philosophy of Science More Socially Relevant.


Professional Service

Past-president Canadian Society for Women in Philosophy (CSWIP)

Former President and current member Society for Analytical Feminism

Associate Editor Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy


Department of Philosophy

Twilight Hall
50 Franklin Street
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753

802.443.2077 fax