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Nora BerenstainNora Berenstain

Department of Philosophy
801 McClung Tower
Knoxville, Tennessee 37996-0480

Phone: 865-974-3255

My Ph.D. is from the University of Texas. I joined the Department as Assistant Professor in 2012.

My research in the metaphysics of science focuses on questions surrounding the role of mathematics in the empirical sciences, the relationship of math to modality, and whether laws of nature have modal force. I am interested in the relationship between structuralism in mathematics and ontic structural realism in the philosophy of physics. I also work on information-theoretic conceptions of ontology.

My work in feminist epistemology focuses on epistemic exploitation and epistemic oppression. I aim to bring an intersectional perspective to debates in feminist philosophy that center white women and assume a single-axis framework of gender-based oppression. I am also co-director of UTK’s Intersectionality Community of Scholars (ICOS).

My work at the intersection of philosophy of science and feminist epistemology critically interrogates traditional philosophical conceptions of rationality in light of empirical research on implicit bias and investigates how these self-conceptions prevent us from addressing implicit bias within the discipline. I also examine the role that active ignorance plays in upholding dominant theoretical frameworks rooted in oppression, such as scientific racism.


  • “Epistemic Exploitation.” (2016) Ergo 3.22.
  • “The Applicability of Mathematics to Physical Modality.” (2016) Synthese, 1-17.
  • “What A Structuralist Theory of Properties Could Not Be, (2016) in A. Marmodoro, and
    D. Yates (eds.) The Metaphysics of Relations. Oxford University Press.
  • “Necessary Laws and Chemical Kinds.” (2014) Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92.4:
  • “Ontic Structural Realism and Modality.” (2012) with James Ladyman, in E. Landry and
  • D. Rickles (eds.) Structural Realism: Structure, Object, and Causality. University of Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science. Springer.


"White Ignorance and Epistemic Violence in Philosophy"

  • New Directions in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, University of Tennessee 4/2017

"Whitewashing Hermeneutical Injustice"

  • Society for Analytical Feminism, Pacific APA, Seattle 4/2017

"Active Ignorance and the Rhetoric of Biological Race Realism"

  • FEMMSS: Gender, Race, and Concepts of Difference, University of Notre Dame 10/2016

“Epistemic Exploitation”

  • Society for Analytical Feminism, Central APA, Chicago 3/2016
  • Analyzing Social Wrongs, Institut fur Wissenschaft und Kunst, Vienna, Austria 5/2015
  • Understanding Epistemic Injustice, University of Bristol 6/2014

“Scientific Realism and the Applicability of Mathematics to Physical Modality”

  • Department of Philosophy, Michigan State University 1/2016

“Strengthening Weak Emergence”

  • History and Philosophy of Science: Emergence, University of Colorado at Boulder 10/2015

“Introspection, Rationality, and Resistance to Implicit Bias”

  • Hypatia Conference: Diversifying Philosophy, Villanova University 5/2015
  • Science, Technology, and Gender: Challenges and Opportunities, Waterloo, Canada 8/2014

“Mathematical Structure, Physical Modality, and Non-causal Explanation”

  • Explanation Beyond Causation, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich 10/2014

“Scientific Realism and the Commitment to Mathematics, Modality, and Metaphysical Dependence”

  • New Thinking about Scientific Realism, Cape Town, South Africa 6/2014

“Against Sophisticated Humeanism”

  • Northwest Philosophy Conference, Lewis & Clark College 11/2011

“What A Structuralist View of Properties Could Not Be”

  • Metaphysics Conference, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico 10/2011

“Metaphysical Dependence: The Role of Mathematical Structure in Physical Modality”

  • Structure and Identity Conference, University of Bristol, UK 07/2010

“Necessary Laws and Chemical Kinds: A Case Study in A Posteriori Necessity”

  • Philosophy of Science Association, Montreal, Canada 11/2010
  • Intersections with Philosophy of Language, Brandeis University 02/2010
  • USC/UCLA Philosophy Graduate Conference 02/2010
  • ¬†University of Iowa Philosophy Graduate Conference 04/2009


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