Lecture – “Love Slaves and Wonder Women: Radical Feminism and Social Reform in the Psychology of William Moulton Marston”

The next lecture in this year’s Center for Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology lecture series on “Sexing Science, Gendering Technology” will be by Dr. Matt Brown:

 “Love Slaves and Wonder Women: Radical Feminism and Social Reform in the Psychology of William Moulton Marston”

THIS Wednesday, March 25, 7:30 pm, Jonsson Performance Hall, UT Dallas

This is the culmination of a long-term project that involves history and philosophy of science, history of feminism and the women’s movement, history of popular culture, literature, and comics studies. I would be honored to see you there.

I have a draft of a paper in progress (much more academic in nature than the presentation will be) with the same title as the talk on Wednesday. If you’d like to have a look before the lecture (or after), I’d be happy to send it to you.

Here’s the abstract for the paper:

In contemporary histories of psychology, William Moulton Marston (1893-1947) is sometimes remembered for helping develop the lie detector test. He is better remembered in history of popular culture for creating the comic book superhero Wonder Woman. In his time, however, he was a significant psychologist and public figure, contributing to research in deception, basic emotions, abnormal psychology, sexuality, and consciousness. He was also a radical though unorthodox feminist with deep connections to women’s rights movements. Marston’s work is instructive in several ways for philosophers of science, particularly on the question of the relation between science and values. Although Marston’s case provides further evidence of the beneficial role that feminist values can play in scientific work, nevertheless, it poses challenges to philosophical accounts of value-laden science. Marston’s feminist values allow him to identify weaknesses in the research of other psychologists, and they allow him to posit psychological concepts that avoid reifying social stereotypes; this aspect of his work exemplifies earlier views about feminist value-laden research. His scientific work also implies *normative* conclusions about psycho-emotional health for individuals and society, a direction of influence that is relatively under-theorized in the literature. Furthermore, Marston makes use of the popular press as an unusual venue of the *application* of his scientific research as well as the advocacy of his radical values. To understand and evaluate Marston’s work requires an approach that treats science and values as mutually influencing; it also requires that we understand the relationship between science advising and political advocacy in value-laden science.


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