David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
This dissertation seeks to fill two lacunae in contemporary feminist discussions of essentialism: first, a lack of critical analysis of the term "essentialism" and its cognates, and second, a paucity of feminist work that aims to develop anti-essentialist methods rather than merely presenting anti-essentialist critiques of existing feminist theories. I propose a typology of feminist essentialisms, distinguishing metaphysical, biological, linguistic, and methodological variants. I argue that methodological essentialism---understood as the practice of making false generalisations about women based on the experiences and identities only of a particular group---is the most pressing political issue for feminists, and defend Elizabeth Spelman's anti-essentialist critique against its opponents. Anti-essentialism should not, however, be interpreted as disavowing the category "women" altogether, and I use Ludwig Wittgenstein's arguments in his Philosophical Investigations to articulate a form of feminist anti-essentialism. that understands similarities between women as family resemblances. This approach enables feminists to make generalisations about women that neither obscure important differences nor deminise our political efficacy. This Wittgensteinian feminism rejects the a priori and urges us to "look and see" to justify generalisations about women. I interpret this as a call for a feminist anti-essentialism that is embedded in feminist practice, and ask what "look and see" might mean for feminist research and for feminist organising against sexual violence. In chapter four, I argue that Carol Gilligan's recent work on girls' psychology in the context of race and class differences successfully responds to long-standing charges that her research is essentialist. It does not, however, fully meet the methodological challenge of anti-essentialism as it fails to acknowledge power relations embedded in research processes, which in turn shape conclusions about female identi
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library||
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Cressida J. Heyes (1997). Anti‐Essentialism in Practice: Carol Gilligan and Feminist Philosophy. Hypatia 12 (3):142-163.
Alison Stone (2004). Essentialism and Anti-Essentialism in Feminist Philosophy. Journal of Moral Philosophy 1 (2):135-153.
Uma Narayan (1998). Essence of Culture and a Sense of History: A Feminist Critique of Cultural Essentialism. Hypatia 13 (2):86 - 106.
Charlotte Witt (2011). What Is Gender Essentialism?. In. In , Feminist Metaphysics. Springer Verlag. 11--25.
Brooke A. Ackerly (2000). Political Theory and Feminist Social Criticism. Cambridge University Press.
Lena Gunnarsson (2011). A Defence of the Category ‘Women’. Feminist Theory 12 (1):23-37.
Patrice Diquinzio (1993). Exclusion and Essentialism in Feminist Theory: The Problem of Mothering. Hypatia 8 (3):1 - 20.
Vanessa E. Munro (2006). Resemblances of Identity: Ludwig Wittgenstein and Contemporary Feminist Legal Theory. Res Publica 12 (2):137-162.
Alison Bailey (2008). On Intersectionality, Empathy, and Feminist Solidarity. Peace and Justice Studies 18 (2):14-36.
Joyce N. Davidson & Mick Smith (1999). Wittgenstein and Irigaray: Gender and Philosophy in a Language (Game) of Difference. Hypatia 14 (2):72-96.
Joyce Nira Davidson & Mick Smith (1999). Wittgenstein and Irigaray: Gender and Philosophy in a Language (Game) of Difference. Hypatia 14 (2):72 - 96.
Sue V. Rosser (1987). Feminist Scholarship in the Sciences: Where Are We Now and When Can We Expect A Theoretical Breakthrough? Hypatia 2 (3):5 - 17.
Cressida J. Heyes (2000). Line Drawings: Defining Women Through Feminist Practice. Cornell University Press.
Added to index2011-01-07
Total downloads10 ( #137,947 of 1,096,413 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #231,754 of 1,096,413 )
How can I increase my downloads?