A woman's scorn: Toward a feminist defense of contempt as a moral emotion

Hypatia 20 (4):80-93 (2005)
Abstract
In an effort to reclaim women's moral psychology, feminist philosophers have reevaluated several seemingly negative emotions such as anger, resentment, and bitterness. However, one negative emotion has yet to receive adequate attention from feminist philosophers: contempt. I argue that feminists should reconsider what role feelings of contempt for male oppressors and male-dominated institutions and practices should play in our lives. I begin by surveying four feminist defenses of the negative emotions. I then offer a brief sketch of the nature and moral significance of contempt, and argue that contempt can be morally and politically valuable for the same reasons that feminists have defended other negative emotions. I close by considering why feminists have been hesitant to defend contempt as a morally and politically important emotion
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