Carla Fehr works in the areas of socially relevant philosophy of science, philosophy of biology, and feminist epistemology. Her research examines the social nature of science and technology. Simply put, she argues that diversity promotes excellence. If scientific communities want to foster research that is creative, rigorous, and better able to meet the needs of a wide range of publics and policy makers, they should include members from a diversity of social and material locations, and members who hold different theoretical perspectives. This means that research communities ought to value diversity not only for ethical and political reasons, but also because it makes our science better.

She is also interested in exploring ways to foster this diversity. She conducts research in philosophy of biology, in which she develops critiques of biological accounts of sex differences in human cognition and in the division of labour. Understanding this sex difference research is particularly important because it has frequently been used to justify excluding women from science and technology careers.

Her work in feminist epistemology explores why smart people of goodwill resist acknowledging how race, gender and other social categories structure both our knowledge producing institutions and the knowledge that we produce in those institutions. Further, this work considers the responsibilities of individuals and organizations for creating cultures that are genuinely open and welcoming to people who are members of groups who have been or are currently excluded or marginalized.

Dr. Fehr is interested in figuring out the theoretical aspects of respectful organizational culture, as well as using this theory to address to current and pressing social issues. She is currently working on three papers.

  • Culture, exploitation, and epistemic approaches to diversity
  • Who the computer sees: Visions of bias in artificial intelligence
  • For the love of dog: Social values in canine cognition research

Dr. Fehr’s research program has explicit and direct, practical and policy implications. These implications range from equitably setting national research priorities, to creating a positive workplace cultures, to developing and implementing university policies that promote the recruitment and retention of a diverse faculty, to the development of departmental climates in which all faculty members are enabled to do their best work.

Her research provides the methodology and the theoretical framework for the American Philosophical Association, Committee on the Status of Women Site Visit Program, a program designed to help Philosophy Departments build climates that support people from groups underrepresented in philosophy and support the scholarly goals of all their members.

Dr. Fehr coaches STEM women and consults on organizational cultures.