Mothering, diversity and peace: Comments on Sara Ruddick's feminist maternal peace politics

Journal of Social Philosophy 26 (1):162-182 (1994)
Sara Ruddick's contemporary philosophical account of mothering reconsiders the maternal arguments used in the women's peace movements of the earlier part of this century. The culmination of this project is her 1989 book, Maternal Thinking: Toward a Politics of Peace. Ruddick's project is ground-breaking work in both academic philosophy and feminist theory. In this chapter, I first look at the relationship between the two basic components of Ruddick's argument in Maternal Thinking: the "practicalist conception of truth" (PCT) and feminist standpoint theory (FST). I argue that Ruddick is never clear about the exact relation between the two components. These tensions point to a deeper problem in Ruddick's discussion of the critical power of maternal thinking. The diversity of maternal practices presents a genuine challenge to Ruddick’s account. I argue that neither of the components she explores can adequately ground a feminist peace politics without first answering the question of who speaks for mothers. While I can suggest ways to make Ruddick's argument consistent, she still faces-despite her claims of universality- the deeper problem of reconciling her account of maternal practice with the genuine diversity of actual maternal practices.
Keywords Feminist Philosophy  Feminist Standpoint Theory
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9833.1995.tb00063.x
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