The Limits of Knowledge

Generating Pragmatist Feminist Cases for Situated Knowing

By Nancy Arden McHugh

Subjects: Pragmatism, Feminist Philosophy, Philosophy, Women's Studies
Paperback : 9781438457802, 202 pages, July 2016
Hardcover : 9781438457819, 202 pages, August 2015

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Table of contents

1. Introduction: Knowing (in) This place
2. The Career Woman’s Disease: Endometriosis and Experimental Inquiry
3. Grounding Knowledge Through the Mothers Committee of Bayview Hunters Point
4. Transactionally Situated Frameworks, Gold Standards, and Silent Epidemics
5. The Needs of Living: Agent Orange in the Central Highlands of Viet Nam
6. Rooted in a Community
7. Where We Should Begin and End

Argues for a transactionally situated approach to science and medicine in order to meet the needs of marginalized groups.


The Limits of Knowledge provides an understanding of what pragmatist feminist theories look like in practice, combining insights from the work of American pragmatist John Dewey concerning experimental inquiry and transaction with arguments for situated knowledge rooted in contemporary feminism. Using case studies to demonstrate some of the particular ways that dominant scientific and medical practices fail to meet the health needs of marginalized groups and communities, Nancy Arden McHugh shows how transactionally situated approaches are better able to meet the needs of these communities. Examples include a community action group fighting environmental injustice in Bayview Hunters Point, California, one of the most toxic communities in the US; gender, race, age, and class biases in the study and diagnosis of endometriosis; a critique of Evidence-Based Medicine; the current effects of Agent Orange on Vietnamese women and children; and pediatric treatment of Amish and Mennonite children.

Nancy Arden McHugh is Professor of Philosophy at Wittenberg University and the author of Feminist Philosophies A–Z.


"…an exemplary model of situated, engaged philosophy, both as a set of arguments compiled in a book, and as a reflection of the practices of situated, engaged philosophical research used to support the arguments." — hypatia

"…McHugh's book provides an example of what a pragmatist feminist theory of knowledge looks like in practice." — Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal