In Political Theory and Feminist Social Criticism, Brooke Ackerly demonstrates the shortcomings of contemporary deliberative democratic theory, relativism and essentialism for guiding the practice of social criticism in the real, imperfect world. Drawing theoretical implications from the activism of Third World feminists who help bring to public audiences the voices of women silenced by coercion, Brooke Ackerly provides a practicable model of social criticism. She argues that feminist critics have managed to achieve in practice what (...) other theorists do only incompletely in theory. Complemented by Third World feminist social criticism, deliberative democratic theory becomes critical theory - actionable, coherent, and self-reflective. While a complement to democratic theory, Third World feminist social criticism also addresses the problem in feminist theory associated with attempts to deal with identity politics. Third World feminist social criticism thus takes feminist theory beyond the critical impasse of the tension between anti-relativist and anti-essentialist feminist theory. (shrink)
This paper is situated in the context of feminist poststructuralist debates around identity. In it, I argue that anti-essentialist accounts of identity, while they may displace, or at least call into question, the foundations of subjectivity, are no less likely to invoke a series of presuppositions with respect to the self than those who seek to maintain them in some form. In particular, these presuppositions often cohere around the materiality of the body. And yet, paradoxically, this accent on materiality (...) refers to a very particular kind of body - one that seems to have very little relation to the biological body. Using psychopharmacology as an example, I suggest that the Gilles Deleuze's ethology offers one way through which both to engage seriously with the 'biological' body while at the same time resisting either an essentialist or biological determinist position. (shrink)
By the turn of the twenty-first century, women writing about electing to share their lives with female canines directly confront a strange sort of backlash. Even as their extensions of the feminist forms of personal criticism contribute to significant developments in theories of sex, gender, and species, they become targets of criticism as “indulgent” for focusing on their dogs. Comparing these elements in and around popular memoirs like Caroline Knapp's Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond between People (...) and Dogs (1998) and Deirdre McCloskey's Crossing: A Memoir (1999), as well as academic studies like Alice Kuzniar's Melancholia's Dog: Reflections on Our Animal Kinship (2006) and Donna Haraway's When Species Meet (2007), this essay elaborates the ways in which living with and writing about female canine companions informs poststructuralist and feminist questions about the embodiment and performance of structures of authority, including those of academic writers, “dog-mom” stereotypes, and reproductively silenced bodies. Situating these texts amid discussions of form in and around feminist/dog-writing, I argue that together they move narrative beyond the abstract model of the lone “authoritative” human individual, reframing feminist politics as intra-active, even trans-species, from the ground up. (shrink)
Feminist philosophers and social theorists have engaged in an extensive critique of the project of modernity during the past three decades. However, many feminists seem to assume that the critique of religion essential to this project remains valid. Radical criticism of religion in the European tradition presupposes a theory of religion that is highly ethnocentric, and Marx's theory of religion serves as a case in point.
"An eloquent work. Somer Brodribb not only gives us a feminist critique of postmodernism with its masculinist predeterminants in existentialism, its Freudian footholdings and its Sadean values, but in the very form and texture of the critique, she literally creates new discourse in feminist theory. Brodribb has transcended not only postmodernism but its requirement that we speak in its voice even when criticizing it. She creates a language that is at once poetic and powerfully analytical. Her insistent and (...) compelling radical critique refuses essentialism-from both masculinist thinkers and their women followers. She demystifies postmodernism to reveal that it and its antecedents represent yet another mundane version of patriarchal politics. Ultimately Brodribb returns us to feminist theory with the message that we must refuse to be derivative and continue to originate theory and politics from the condition of women under male domination." -Kathleen Barry, author of Female Sexual Slavery An iconoclastic work brilliantly undertaken . . . Nothing Mat(T)ers magnificently shows that postmodernism is the cultural capital of late patriarchy. It is the art of self- display, the conceit of masculine self and the science of reproductive and genetic engineering in an ecstatic Nietzschean cycle of statis." -Andre Michel Nothing Mat(T)ers encapsulates in its title the valuelessness of the current academic fad of postmodernism. Somer Brodribb has written a brave and witty book demolishing the gods and goddesses of postmodernism by deconstructing their method and de-centering their subjects and, in the process, has deconstructed deconstructionism and decentered decentering! This is a long-awaited and much-needed book from a tough- minded, embodied, and unflinching scholar." -Janice Raymond. (shrink)
A book of tremendous influence when it first appeared, A Mind of One's Own reminded readers that the tradition of Western philosophy-- in particular, the ideals of reason and objectivity-- has come down to us from white males, nearly all of whom are demonstrably sexist, even misogynist. In this second edition, the original authors continue to ask, What are the implications of this fact for contemporary feminists working within this tradition? The second edition pursues this question about the value of (...) reason and objectivity in new directions using the fresh perspectives and diverse viewpoints of the new generation of feminist philosophers. A Mind of One's Own is essential reading and an essential reference for philosophers and for all scholars and students concerned about the nature of knowledge and our pursuit of it. (shrink)
"...No mere collection, but a wonderful synthesis of some of the best and most representative works of modern feminist scholarship, reflecting the richness and diversity of contemporary women's studies. It provides an informative and empowering perspective on feminist scholarly achievements of the last decades." -Dale Spender, Founding member of WITS (Women, Information, Technology, and Scholarship), is author of more than 30 books, including Feminist Theorists: Three Centuries of Key Women Thinkers and For The Record: the Making and (...) Meaning of Feminist Knowledge. "A stimulating introduction to women's studies and a really useful teaching tool." -Mary Ellen Brown, Television and Women's Culture Women's Studies: Essential Readings provides a wide range of readers with an entirely comprehensive selection of ever 140 readings on women's studies, representing the entire diversity of current feminist thinking. The book is a divided into fourteen sections that reflect primary topics within women's studies, covering theory and perspectives, including: feminist social theory; psychological and psychoanalytic theory; cross-cultural perspectives and historical perspectives, as well as themes such as: education and work; marriage and motherhood; sexuality; the law; crime and deviance; politics and the state; science, medicine and reproductive technology; language and gender; feminist literary criticism; and the media tool Features: Introductions to each section provide an overview of the main issues and debates. Commentaries on each extract locate the work of individual authors within wider debates and identify the perspective from which they are writing. Each section contains a guide to further reading. (shrink)
This important text introduces students to both feminism and other social and political theories via an examination of the inter-relationship between different feminist positions and key contemporary debates. The book takes each debate in turn, outlines the main themes, discusses different feminist responses and evaluates the implications for real-life political and social issues. This user-friendly structure effectively redraws the map of contemporary feminist thought, offering a fresh and succinct summary of an extensive range of material and graphically (...) demonstrating the ongoing relevance and value of a feminist perspective. (shrink)
Are we in a post-feminist era? Has the term, feminist, grown out of its resisted stance? What from today's standpoint is an appropriate concept of feminist philosophy? And is it not the case that all people thinking democratically must share its central concern? In Feminist Philosophy , internationally acclaimed philosopher Herta Nagl-Docekal discusses and critiques the theories of today. Her study ranges across philosophical anthropology, aesthetics, philosophy of science, the critique of reason, political theory, and philosophy (...) of law. Feminist Philosophy confronts the entire field with the problem of the hierarchical relations of the sexes. Throughout her work, Nagl-Docekal affirms the importance of feminist thought as she presses for new approaches to common problems. (shrink)
This paper dialogues with the contributions included in Francesco Fiorentino and Domenico Firomonte’s edited volumes and Massimo Riva’s book from the point of view of feminist literary criticism. This diverse positioning in relation to the work of women writers has allowed feministcriticism to develop a path that has deconstructed the Italian literary canon and the promotion of critical stances that are no longer abstract or monologic, but rather situated in the point of view of the (...) subject and its relational component. Works by Italian women writers present themselves as a body of texts of high material density that transfer questions of textual mobility both within digital and print culture onto the subject and its style of enunciation. L’intervento dialoga con i contributi dei volumi a cura di Francesco Fiorentino e Domenico Fiormonte e con il libro di Massimo Riva a partire dall’esperienza della critica letteraria femminista italiana. Il suo diverso posizionamento rispetto alle opere delle scrittrici ha permesso l’articolarsi di un percorso che ha decostruito il canone della tradizione letteraria italiana e l’affermarsi di posizioni critiche non più astratte e monologiche, ma situate a partire dal soggetto e dalla sua componente relazionale. Le opere delle scrittrici italiane si rappresentano infatti come un corpo testuale dall’alta densità materica, che sposta sul soggetto e sul suo stile dell’enunciazione le questioni di mobilità del testo, sia esso virtuale o cartaceo. (shrink)
Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium. FemaleMan_Meets_OncoMouse explores the roles of stories, figures, dreams, theories, facts, delusions, advertising, institutions, economic arrangements, publishing practices, scientific advances, and politics in twentieth- century technoscience. The book's title is an e-mail address. With it, Haraway locates herself and her readers in a sprawling net of associations more far-flung than the Internet. The address is not a cozy home. There is no innocent place to stand in the world where the book's author figure, FemaleMan, encounters DuPont's controversial laboratory rodent, OncoMouse. (...) Haraway sees the world of contemporary technoscience as a drama. Information sciences and life sciences are at the center of the dramatic action. Scenes are set in landscapes where maps of human genetic differences are stored in databases, racialized bodies are reconfigured by morphing for photographs in popular magazines, and transgenic mice important to breast cancer research are patented intellectual property. The actors are many, and not all are human. Beginning with the Modest Witness, the key figure in the Science Revolution, Haraway shows us the trouble lurking in race and gender- marked practices for attesting to matters of fact. In later scenes, Haraway explores the kinship relations among the many cyborg creatures produced in the late twentieth-century--in nuclear research, genetic engineering, reproductive technologies, computer-mediated representational practices, and mutations in biological approaches to "race.". (shrink)
Rosemary Hennessy confronts some of the impasses in materialist feminist work on rethinking `woman' as a discursively constructed subject. She argues for a theory of discourse as ideology taking into account the work of Kristeva, Foucault and Laclau.
This "open letter" examines Agnes Heller's seemingly ambivilent position on feminism, as well as her pedegogy, her reading of Plato, her "ethics of personality," and her positions on critique and on "everyday life.".
At a time when the political left have watched the apparent decline of socialism, and with it the cynical rejection of political hope, the question of how to rethink political transformation has become a pressing question. In Transformations Drucilla Cornell offers us a unique conception of recollective imagination which allows us to preserve and re-articulate the tradition of critical social theory. Cornell argues that psychoanalysis must play a role in social theory because we need to understand the connection between our (...) constitution as gendered subjects and social, political and legal transformation. We cannot avoid the question of how the subject is constituted if we are to provide a new conception of radical change. A remarkable work combining the insights of recent feminist and critical theory with the concerns for social change. (shrink)
"I experience language as an intensely physical process," writes Donna Haraway. "I cannot not think through metaphor... Biochemistry and language just don't feel that different to me." Since the appearance of her monumental Primate Visions and the now classic essay "A Manifesto for Cyborgs," feminist historian of science Donna Haraway has created a way of thinking about culture, science, and the production of knowledge that has made her one of the most highly regarded theorists in America. She is admired (...) for her passion and rigor, her wicked ironies, and her deep commitment to issues of gender and race, as well as species. The author of four seminal works on science and culture, Donna Haraway here speaks for the first time in a direct and non-academic voice. Thyrza Nichols Goodeve leads her subject through conversation about Haraway's intellectual development, theories and influences, the role of Catholicism in her thinking, and how her ethical stands have mirrored issues in her personal life. For readers who have admired and struggled with the rich and complex performances of her earlier works, How Like a Leaf will be a welcome inside view of the author's thought. At the same time, this work makes Haraway's contribution to modern thought available to a much wider audience who cares about the issues she addresses. This is a highly personal introduction to a major thinker's body of work. (shrink)
Donna Haraway's work has transformed the fields of cyberculture, feminist studies, and the history of science and technology. Her subjects range from animal dioramas in the American Museum of Natural History to research in transgenic mice, from gender in the laboratory to the nature of the cyborg. Trained as an historian of science, she has produced a series of books and essays that have become essential reading in cultural studies, gender studies, and the history of science. The Haraway Reader (...) brings together a generous selection of Donna Haraway's work. Included is her "Manifesto for Cyborgs," in which she famously wrote that she "would rather be a cyborg than a goddess." Other selections are taken from her three major works, Primate Visions, Modest Witness , and Simians, Cyborgs and Women , as well as some of her more recent writing on animals. For readers in cultural studies, feminist theory, science studies, and cyberculture, Donna Haraway is one of our keenest observers of nature, science, and the social world. This volume is the best introduction to her thought. (shrink)
Yielding Gender explores and reconsiders the tensions that deconstruction poses for feminist philosophy. Emphasizing the important role of deconstruction in revealing the ambiguity and unstable nature of gender, Penelope Deutscher asks the crucial question: does the very instability of gender mean that we can no longer talk of a man or a woman of reason in the history of philosophy? Using the work of Judith Butler, Jacques Derrida and Luce Irigaray, Deutscher explores this question by examining the issue of (...) gender as "trouble", deconstruction and feministcriticism of the history of philosophy. She then considers and challenges feminist interpretations of some key figures in the history of philosophy. Deutscher sketches how Rousseau, St. Augustine and Simone de Beauvoir have described gender and argues that their readings of gender are in fact empowered by gender's own contradiction and instability rather than limited by it. (shrink)
Newcomers and more experienced feminist theorists will welcome this even-handed survey of the care/justice debate within feminist ethics. Grace Clement clarifies the key terms, examines the arguments and assumptions of all sides to the debate, and explores the broader implications for both practical and applied ethics. Readers will appreciate her generous treatment of the feminine, feminist, and justice-based perspectives that have dominated the debate.Clement also goes well beyond description and criticism, advancing the discussion through the incorporation (...) of a broad range of insights into a new integration of the values of care and justice. Care, Autonomy, and Justice marks a major step forward in our understanding of feminist ethics. It is both direct and helpful enough to work as an introduction for students and insightful and original enough to make it necessary reading for scholars. (shrink)
When feminist philosophers first turned their attention to traditional ethical theory, its almost exclusive emphasis upon justice, rights, abstract rationality, and individual autonomy came under special criticism. Women’s experiences seemed to suggest the need for a focus on care, empathetic relations, and the interdependence of persons.The most influential readings of what has become an extremely lively and fruitful debate are reproduced here along with important new contributions by Alison Jaggar and Sara Ruddick. As this volume testifies, there is (...) no agreement on the important questions about the relationship between justice and care, but the debate has deepened and enriched our understanding in many ways. Justice and Care is a valuable collection of readings—an essential tool for anyone studying the state of feminist thought in particular or ethical theory in general. (shrink)
In the past two decades, feminist scholars have produced an abundance of theoretical writing in humanities and social science disciplines. The result is a body of work that is extraordinarily rich, hard to keep up with, and extremely difficult to teach.With the appearance of Theorizing Feminism: Parallel Trends in the Humanities and Social Sciences, the first genuinely interdisciplinary anthology of significant contributions to feminist theory, teachers will finally have a volume that does justice to their topic. Creatively edited, (...) with insightful introductory material, this timely reader illuminates the historical development of feminist theory as well as the current state of the field.Emphasizing common themes and interests in the humanities and social sciences, the editors have chosen those topics that have been central to feminist theory in many disciplines, that remain relevant to current debates, and that reflect the interests of a diverse community of thinkers.The contributors include leading figures from psychology, literary criticism, sociology, philosophy, anthropology, art history, law, and economics. This is the ideal text for any advanced course on interdisciplinary feminist theory, one that fills a long-standing gap in feminist pedagogy. (shrink)
In the past three decades, feminist scholars have produced an extraordinary rich body of theoretical writing in humanities and social science disciplines. This revised and updated second edition of Theorizing Feminism: Parallel Trends in the Humanities and Social Sciences, is a genuinely interdisciplinary anthology of significant contributions to feminist theory.This timely reader is creatively edited, and contains insightful introductory material. It illuminates the historical development of feminist theory as well as the current state of the field. Emphasizing (...) common themes and interests in the humanities and social sciences, the editors have chosen topics that remain relevant to current debates, reflect the interests of a diverse community of thinkers, and have been central to feminist theory in many disciplines.The contributors include leading figures from the fields of psychology, literary criticism, sociology, philosophy, anthropology, art history, law, and economics. This is the ideal text for any advanced course on interdisciplinary feminist theory, one that fills a long-standing gap in feminist pedagogy. (shrink)
During the scientific revolution reductionism and mechanism were introduced together. These concepts remained intertwined through much of the ensuing history of philosophy and science, resulting in the privileging of approaches to research that focus on the smallest bits of nature. This combination of concepts has been the object of intense feministcriticism, as it encourages biological determinism, narrows researchers’ choices of problems and methods, and allows researchers to ignore the contextual features of the phenomena they investigate. I (...) argue that the historical link between mechanism and reductionism is not a necessary one, that this link should be severed, and in many cases has already been severed. Teasing reductionism away from mechanism allows us to hold onto the mechanistic view that science should explain how things work, without mandating methods and approaches that reduce the objects of scientific investigation to their smallest parts. Mechanism without reductionism decenters reductive methods, and so creates intellectual space for a plurality of methods that may engage the world at a variety of levels of organization. This ensuing pluralism opens the door for a wide variety of approaches to research, including feminist and gender-sensitive science. (shrink)
I defend one leading strand of Descartes's thought against feministcriticism. I will show that Descartes's “first-person” approach to our knowledge of minds, which has been criticized on feminist grounds, is at least compatible with key feminist views. My argument suggests that this strand of Cartesianism may even bolster some central feminist positions.
Feministcriticism of health care and ofbioethics has become increasingly rich andsophisticated in the last years of thetwentieth century. Nonetheless, this body ofwork remains quite marginalized. I believe thatthere are (at least) two reasons for this.First, many people are still confused aboutfeminism. Second, many people are unconvincedthat significant sexism still exists and aretherefore unreceptive to arguments that itshould be remedied if there is no largerbenefit. In this essay I argue for a thin,``core'' conception of feminism that is easy (...) tounderstand and difficult to reject. Corefeminism would render debate within feminismmore fruitful, clear the way for appropriaterecognition of differences among women andtheir circumstances, provide intellectuallycompelling reasons for current non-feminists toadopt a feminist outlook, and facilitatemutually beneficial cooperation betweenfeminism and other progressive socialmovements. This conception of feminism alsomakes it clear that feminism is part of alarger egalitarian moral and political agenda,and adopting it would help bioethics focus onthe most urgent moral priorities. In addition,integrating core feminism into bioethics wouldopen a gateway to the more speculative parts offeminist work where a wealth of creativethinking is occurring. Engaging with thisfeminist work would challenge and strengthenmainstream approaches; it should also motivatemainstream bioethicists to explore othercurrently marginalized parts of bioethics. (shrink)
This pathbreaking work pursues two interwoven themes. Firstly, it engages in a deconstruction of Ancient philosopher's texts--mainly from Plato, but also from Homer and Parmenides--in order to free four Greek female figures from the patriarchal discourse which for centuries had imprisoned them in a particular role. Secondly, it attempts to construct a symbolic female order, reinterpreting these figures from a new perspective. Building on the theory of sexual difference, Cavarero shows that death is the central category on which the whole (...) edifice of traditional philosophy is based. By contrast, the category of birth provides the thread with which new concepts of feministcriticism can be woven together to establish a fresh way of thinking. Cavarero develops a philosophical narrative which, by re-interpreting each of the four figures of ancient thought, uncovers several images of the female desire for self-representation. Plato himself had not forseen that one day female subjectivity would assert its autonomy, plundering and throwing into confusion the patriarchal text in order to tell another story. (shrink)
This compilation of around 20 texts presents an heterogeneous spectrum of topics by authors such as: Diamela Eltit, Elvira Hernndez and Guadalupe Santa Cruz, among others who from a philosophical point of view the writings of George ...
While feminist aestheticians have long interrogated gendered, raced, and classed hierarchies in the arts, feminist philosophers still don’t talk much about popular music. Even though Angela Davis and bell hooks have seriously engaged popular music, they are often situated on the margins of philosophy. It is my contention that feminist aesthetics has a lot to offer to the study of popular music, and the case of popular music points feminist aesthetics to some of its own limitations (...) and unasked questions. This essay addresses the paucity of work in feminist philosophy and popular music by (1) applying insights from other areas of feminist aesthetics (the role of gender in the art/craft distinction, concepts of genius and creativity, notions of active spectatorship, etc.) to questions of popular music, and (2) thereby using feminist aesthetics – specifically, Julia Kristea’s notion of female genius and the genius spectator – to critique itself. (shrink)
Third wave anti-essentialist critique has too often been used to dismiss second wave feminist projects. I examine claims that Carol Gilligan's work is "essentialist," and argue that her recent research requires this criticism be rethought. Anti-essentialist feminist method should consist in attention to the relations of power that construct accounts of gendered identity in the course of different forms of empirical enquiry, not in rejecting any general claim about women or girls.
This article addresses the question whether the model of social criticism as 'connected' or 'loyal' which is advanced by Richard Rorty and Michael Walzer offers an adequate picture of social criticism. Two claims are made. First, it is suggested that loyalty is an internally conflicted concept, with three components: a recognition of situatedness in a particular relationship; an affirmation of that relationship by the loyal agent; a set of values or local principles. Where the third component is prominent, (...) loyalty is more reflective and distanced; where the second component predominates, loyalty slips into unreflective commitment. Second, it is argued that Rorty and Walzer conflate the social critic's recognition of his or her situatedness in contexts of power with the affirmation of that situatedness. It is concluded that the model of loyal social criticism is mislead mg, and that the practice of the critic must be tempered by the operation of the sense of injustice. Key Words: connection • loyalty • Rorty • social criticism • Walzer. (shrink)
The daughter of Ralph Cudworth, and friend of John Locke, Damaris Masham was also a philosopher in her own right. She published two, philosophical books, A Discourse Concerning the Love of God and Occasional Thoughts In Reference to a Virtuous and Christian Life. Her primary purpose was to refute John Norris' Malebranchian doctrine that we ought to love only God because only God can give us pleasure, and his criticism of Locke. In addition, she argues for greater educational opportunities (...) for women, and an end to the double standard in sexual morality. Recent feminist literature has suggested that women and men may take different ethical and epistemological stands based on differences between the 'female experience', and the 'male experience'. While leaving aside questions pertaining to the accuracy of these suggestions, this paper discusses some aspects of Masham's thought which might be considered representative of the 'female experience.'. (shrink)
There have been many calls recently for philosophers to rethink what philosophy is and how it should be practiced. Among the most vocal critics is an influential group of feminist philosophers who argue that since current philosophical activity is based primarily on a conception of reason that is both inherently inadequate and oppressive to women, it is imperative that our understanding of the nature and practice of philosophy be significantly modified. I argue that this criticism is fundamentally misguided. (...) Specifically, it seems to me that while philosophers may at times need to rethink the role of the traditional philosophical method of inquiry in the context of general societal debate and rethink the techniques used to help others understand and apply this methodology, this method of inquiry, itself, is not in need of abandonment or major modification. (shrink)
This paper considers some problems with text-centered psychoanalytic and semiotic approaches to film that have dominated feminist film criticism, and develops an alternative contextual approach. I claim that a contextual approach should explore the interaction of film texts with viewers' culturally formed sensibilities and should attempt to render visible the plurality of meaning in art. I argue that the latter approach will allow us to see the virtues of some classical Hollywood films that the former approach has overlooked, (...) and I demonstrate this thesis with an analysis of the film Christopher Strong. (shrink)
This book offers a clear introductory overview of the concept of gender. It places gender in its historical contexts and traces its development from the Enlightenment to the present, before moving on to the evolution of the concept of gender from within the various stances of feministcriticism, and recent developments in queer theory and post-feminism. Close analysis of key literary texts, including Frankenstein , Paradise Lost and A Midsummer Night's Dream , shows how specific styles of literature (...) enable reflection on gender. (shrink)
This paper attempts to assess the recent literature on feminist economics from the perspective of modern Austrian economics. Feminists and Austrians share many epistemological and methodological criticisms of neoclassical theory, although Austrians have never linked those criticisms to gender. Both groups argue that the attempt to mimic the methods of the natural sciences has been a particular source of trouble for neoclassicism. The paper suggests that these common points of criticism can serve as a starting point for dialogue (...) between the two groups. Despite their similar criticisms, the groups do have divergent views on what economic theory should look like, as well as the policy conclusions that likely flow from those theories. The paper explores two examples of theoretical differences (the concept of utility and the relationship between competition and cooperation) and suggests ways that feminists and Austrians might begin to sort out their differences. (shrink)
Feminist philosophers and philosophers drawing on the German tradition of social philosophy have recently converged in stressing the importance of the concept of reification?first explicitly discussed by György Lukács?for the diagnosis of contemporary social and ethical problems. However, importing a theoretical framework alien to Lukács? original discussion has often led to the conflation of reification with other social and ethical problems. Here it is argued that a coherent conception of reification, free of implausible Marxist and idealist trappings, can be (...) recovered from Lukács? original discussion of it: the socially induced distortion of experience such that what is in fact human action appears as mere natural happening. This phenomenon is to be distinguished from, firstly, instrumentalising objectification of persons and, secondly, person-identification failure, with which Martha Nussbaum and Axel Honneth respectively have equated reification in recent work. Reification, on the understanding of it recovered here, is problematic not just because it is an illusion, but also because it can render moral reasons for action or omission, and grounds of ethical evaluation, invisible to agents, and, moreover, because it can lead people to tolerate as inevitable undesirable situations which could in fact be changed. It can thus ground social criticism. (shrink)
This paper considers whether eudaimonism is necessarily an idealizing approach to ethics. I argue, contrary to what is implied by Christine Swanton, that it is not, and I suggest that a non-ideal eudaimonistic virtue ethics can be useful for feminist and critical race theorists. For eudaimonist theorists in the Aristotelian tradition, the claim that one should aim to live virtuously assumes that there will typically be good enough background conditions so that an exercise of the virtues, in conjunction with (...) these favorable external conditions, will suffice for someone to flourish both in the sense of living virtuously and in the sense of living well or living the good life. However, under some forms of oppression the background conditions will not be good enough, and thus an exercise of the virtues will often be insufficient to constitute a flourishing life. It may seem that eudaimonism, with its foregrounding of the concept of flourishing and its assumption of a tight connection between living virtuously and living well, may function as a form of ideology that elides the ways in which non-ideal and oppressive conditions can separate virtue from well-being and can make the state of flourishing (in its dual senses) unattainable. I point out that eudaimonism can be revised to incorporate the claim that virtue and flourishing may typically be unlinked, and I advocate retaining flourishing as an unattainable end, exercising the virtues even with a sense of their absurdity, and confronting the existential states of frustration and disappointment that may result. (shrink)
Feminist philosophy of science has been criticized on several counts. On the one hand, it is claimed that it results in relativism of the worst sort since the political commitment to feminism is prima facie incompatible with scientific objectivity. On the other hand, when critics acknowledge that there may be some value in work that feminists have done, they comment that there is nothing particularly feminist about their accounts. I argue that both criticisms can be addressed through a (...) better understanding of the current work in feminist epistemology. I offer an examination of standpoint theory as an illustration. Harding and Wylie have suggested ways in which the objectivity question can be addressed. These two accounts, together with a third approach, ‘model-based objectivity’, indicate there is a clear sense in which we can understand how standpoint theory both contributes to a better understanding of scientific knowledge and can provide a feminist epistemology. (shrink)
How should feminist philosophers regard the inequalities that structure the lives of women? Some of these inequalities are trivial and others are not; together they form a framework of unequal treatment that shapes women’s lives. This paper asks what priority we should give inequalities that affect women; it critically analyzes Claudia Card’s view that feminists ought to give evils priority. Sometimes ending gender-based inequalities is the best route to eliminating gender-based evil.
Sharge explores the moral pemises of feminist sexual politics, focusing in particular on the emotive issues of abortion, prostitution and adultery, in order to develop an interpretative and pluralist approach to feminist ethics.
This third edition of the bestselling An Introduction to Sociology: Feminist Perspectives confirms the ongoing centrality of feminist perspectives and research to the sociological enterprise and introduces students to the wide range of feminist contributions to key areas of sociological concern. This completely revised edition includes: · new chapters on sexuality and the media · additional material on race and ethnicity, disability and the body · many new international and comparative examples · the influence of theories of (...) globalization and post-colonial studies. The theoretical elements have also been fully rethought in light of recent developments in social theory. Written by three experienced academics, this book gives students of sociology and women's studies an accessible overview of the feminist contribution to all the key areas of sociological concern. (shrink)
This collection of original essays explores the social and relational dimensions of individual autonomy. Rejecting the feminist charge that autonomy is inherently masculinist, the contributors draw on feminist critiques of autonomy to challenge and enrich contemporary philosophical debates about agency, identity, and moral responsibility. The essays analyze the complex ways in which oppression can impair an agent's capacity for autonomy, and investigate connections, neglected by standard accounts, between autonomy and other aspects of the agent, including self-conception, self-worth, memory, (...) and the imagination. (shrink)
Feminist work in the history of philosophy has come of age as an innovative field in the history of philosophy. This volume marks that accomplishment with original essays by leading feminist scholars who ask basic questions: What is distinctive of feminist work in the history of philosophy? Is there a method that is distinctive of feminist historical work? How can women philosophers be meaningfully included in the history of the discipline? Who counts as a philosopher? This (...) collection is a unique collaboration among philosophers from North America and the Nordic Countries, including papers written from both analytic and continental philosophical perspectives and discussing both ancient and modern philosophers. Feminist Reflections on the History of Philosophy will be of interest to historians of philosophy, feminist theorists, women's studies faculty and students, and humanists interested in canon formation and transformation. (shrink)
So what is feminism anyway? Why are all the experts so reluctant to give us a clear definition? Is it possible to make sense of the complex and often contradictory debates? In this concise and accessible introduction to feminist theory, Chris Beasley provides clear explanations of the many types of feminism. She outlines the development of liberal, radical and Marxist//socialist feminism, and reviews the more contemporary influences of psychoanalysis, postmodernism, theories of the body, queer theory, and attends to the (...) ongoing significance of race and ethnicity. Given the diversity of feminist ideas, Chris Beasley a number of ways of looking at feminist theory and offer an open-ended approach which allows for variety and change. What is Feminism? is a clear and up-to-date guide to Western feminist theory for students, their teachers, researchers and anyone else who wants to understand and engage in current feminist debates. `Over the last three decades feminist theories and methodologies have become an increasingly complex as well as somewhat fraught terrain where ideas and egos alternately clash productively and destructively. This is an up-to-date and intelligent introduction to a field which remains a vital component of contemporary sociopolitical issues and debates' - Sneja Gunew, Professor of English and Women’s Studies, University of British Columbia. (shrink)
In this paper I explore some possible reasons why white feminists philosophers have failed to engage the radical work being done by non-Western women, U.S. women of color and scholars of color outside of the discipline. -/- Feminism and academic philosophy have had lots to say to one another. Yet part of what marks feminist philosophy as philosophy is our engagement with the intellectual traditions of the white forefathers. I’m not uncomfortable with these projects: Aristotle, Foucault, Sartre, Wittgenstein, Quine, (...) Austin, and countless others have provided us with some very powerful conceptual tools.. However, as Sandra Harding observes, conventional standards for what counts as “good science” (or in this case “good philosophy”) always bear the imprint of their creators. So, I think about whether the tools my discipline hands me ever serve as strategies for exclusion. -/- My conversation begins with intersectionality, which for feminists working outside of philosophy, is a predictable point of departure; but as a white feminist philosopher I have specific reasons for starting here. The fact that intersectionality is, at once, such a widely recognized strategy for making visible women of color’s issues and concerns in academic and policy discussions, and so neglected by philosophers is telling. I want to invite philosophers to think more seriously about intersectionality and other pluralist approaches as strategies for calling attention to whiteness of philosophy in general and feminist philosophy in particular. I want us to consider what feminist philosophy would be like if women of color’s writing, experiences, and communities drove philosophical inquiry. -/- Since most philosophers are unfamiliar with intersectional methodologies, I begin with a basic explanation of the foundational claims of this approach. Next, I explore some reasons why white feminists working in philosophy may be resistant to this method. I identify both disciplinary and personal reasons for this hesitancy and argue that intersectionality serves as a useful strategic tool for examining white authority in the emergent feminist canon. Finally, I explore the role intersectional thinking might play in creating a feminist critical race philosophy by outlining four projects that I think will challenge and enrich feminist work in the discipline. (shrink)
How is feminism changing the way women and men think, feel, and act? Virginia Held explores how feminist theory is changing contemporary views of moral choice. She proposes a comprehensive philosophy of feminist ethics, arguing persuasively for reconceptualizations of the self of relations between the self and others and of images of birth and death, nurturing and violence. Held shows how social, political, and cultural institutions have traditionally been founded upon masculine ideals of morality. She then identifies a (...) distinct feminist morality that moves beyond culturally embedded notions about motherhood and female emotionality. Examining the effects of this alternative moral and ethical system on changing social values, Held discusses its far-reaching implications for altering standards of freedom, democracy, equality, and personal development. Ultimately, she concludes, the culture of feminism could provide a fresh perspective on--even solutions to--contemporary social problems. Feminist Morality makes a vital contribution to the ongoing debate in feminist theory on the importance of motherhood. For philosophers and other readers outside feminist theory, it offers a feminist moral and social critique in clear and accessible terms. (shrink)
This is a revised edition of Walker's well-known book in feminist ethics first published in 1997. Walker's book proposes a view of morality and an approach to ethical theory which uses the critical insights of feminism and race theory to rethink the epistemological and moral position of the ethical theorist, and how moral theory is inescapably shaped by culture and history. The main gist of her book is that morality is embodied in "practices of responsibility" that express our identities, (...) values, and connections to others in socially patterned ways. Thus ethical theory needs to be empirically informed and politically critical to avoid reiterating forms of socially entrenched bias. Responsible ethical theory should reveal and question the moral significance of social differences. The book engages with, and challenges, the work of contemporary analytic philosophers in ethics. Moral Understandings has been influential in reaching a global audience in ethics and feminist philosophy, as well as in tangential fields like nursing ethics; research ethics; disability ethics; environmental ethics, and social and political theory. This revised edition contains a new preface, a substantive postscript to Chapter 1 about "the subject of moral philosophy"; the addition of a new chapter on the importance of emotion in practices of responsibility; and the addition of an afterword, which responds to critics of the book. (shrink)
“Ethical criticism” is an approach to literary studies that holds that reading certain carefully selected novels can make us ethically better people, e.g., by stimulating our sympathetic imagination (Nussbaum). I try to show that this nonargumentative approach cheapens the persuasive force of novels and that its inherent bias and censorship undercuts what is perhaps the principal value and defense of the novel—that reading novels can be critical to one’s learning how to think.
This second edition of Women, Knowledge and Reality continues to exhibit the ways in which feminist philosophers enrich and challenge philosophy. Essays by twenty-five feminist philosophers, seventeen of them new to the second edition, address fundamental issues in philosophical and feminist methods, metaphysics, epistemology, and the philosophies of science, language, religion and mind/body. This second edition expands the perspectives of women of color, of postmodernism and French feminism, and focuses on the most recent controversies in feminist (...) theory and philosophy. The chapters are organized by traditional fields of philosophy, and include introductions which contrast the ideas of feminist thinkers with traditional philosophers. The collected essays illustrate both the depth and breadth of feminist critiques and the range of contemporary feminist theoretical perspectives. (shrink)
This is the first book to offer a systematic account of feminist philosophy as a distinctive field of philosophy. The book introduces key issues and debates in feminist philosophy including: the nature of sex, gender, and the body; the relation between gender, sexuality, and sexual difference; whether there is anything that all women have in common; and the nature of birth and its centrality to human existence. An Introduction to Feminist Philosophy shows how feminist thinking on (...) these and related topics has developed since the 1960s. The book also explains how feminist philosophy relates to the many forms of feminist politics. The book provides clear, succinct and readable accounts of key feminist thinkers including de Beauvoir, Butler, Gilligan, Irigaray, and MacKinnon. The book also introduces other thinkers who have influenced feminist philosophy including Arendt, Foucault, Freud, and Lacan. Accessible in approach, this book is ideal for students and researchers interested in feminist philosophy, feminist theory, womens studies, and political theory. It will also appeal to the general reader. (shrink)
Up Against Foucault offers both a feminist critique of Foucauldian theories as well as an attempt to reconcile these seemingly irreconcilable perspectives. Feminists are often "up against Foucault" because he questions key conclusions in feminism regarding the nature of gender relations, and men's possession of power. This book, however, fills the gap in literature about Foucault by showing how his theories of sexuality and power relations are often applicable to the everyday realities of women's lives. Drawing upon their diverse (...) backgrounds in social theory and philosophy, the contributors discuss the ways in which Foucault provokes feminists into questioning their grasp of power relations, and examines the implications of his decision to overlook categories of gender in his discussion of sexuality and power relations. They also show that in spite of his lack of interest in gender, Foucault's ways of understanding the control of women and female sexuality ultimately have much to offer feminism. (shrink)
From the historical roots of second-wave feminism to current debates about feminist theory and politics. This introduction to Anglo-American feminist thought provides a critical and panoramic survey of dominant trends in feminism since 1968. Feminism is too often considered a monolithic movement, consisting of an enormous range of women and ideologies, with both similar and different perspectives and approaches. The book is divided into two parts, the first of which takes a close look at the most influential strands (...) of feminism: liberal feminism, Marxist/socialist feminism, radical feminism, lesbian feminism, and black feminism. In later chapters, Whelehan ties these complexities of, and conflicts within, feminism. The role and relationship of men to feminism, and feminism's often thorny relationship to postmodernism, are also the subject of chapter length treatment. Concluding with a provocative discussion of the much-heralded advent of post-feminism and the rise of the new feminist superstars such as Camille Paglia, Naomi Wolf, Susan Faludi, and Katie Roiphe, Modern Feminist thought is an ideal text for students and a book no feminist teacher or activist should be without. (shrink)
Abstract This paper examines a convergence between Heidegger's reconceptualization of subjectivity and intersubjectivity and some recent work in feminist philosophy on relational autonomy. Both view the concept of autonomy to be misguided, given that our capacity to be self-directed is dependent upon our ability to enter into and sustain meaningful relationships. Both attempt to overturn the notion of a subject as an isolated, atomistic individual and to show that selfhood requires, and is based upon, one's relation to and dependence (...) upon others. The paper argues that Heidegger's notion of authentic Mitsein (being-with) rejects traditional notions of autonomy and subjectivity in favor of a relational model of selfhood. Ultimately, it provides a new point of entry into contemporary debates within feminist philosophy on Heidegger's thinking and defends Heidegger from certain feminist critiques. (shrink)
Feminist philosophy of religion as a subject of study has developed in recent years because of the identification and exposure of explicit sexism in much of the traditional philosophical thinking about religion. This struggle with a discipline shaped almost exclusively by men has led feminist philosophers to redress the problematic biases of gender, race, class and sexual orientation of the subject. Anderson and Clack bring together new and key writings on the core topics and approaches to this growing (...) field. Each essay exhibits a distinctive theoretical approach and appropriate insights from the fields of literature, theology, philosophy, gender and cultural studies. Beginning with a general introduction, part one explores important approaches to the feminist philosophy of religion, including psychoanalytic, poststructualist, postmetaphysical, and epistemological frameworks. In part two the authors survey significant topics including questions of divinity, embodiment, autonomy and spirituality, and religious practice. Supported by explanatory prefaces and an extensive bibliography which is organized thematically, Feminist Philosophy of Religion is an important resource for this new area of study. (shrink)
Rethinking Feminist Ethics bridges the gap between women theorists disenchanted with aspects of traditional theories that insist upon the need for some ethical principles. The book raises the question of whether the female conception of ethics based on care, trust and empathy can provide a realistic alternative to the male ethics based on duty and rule bound conception of ethics developed from Kant, Mill and Rawls. Koehn concludes that it cannot, showing how problems for respect of the individual arise (...) also in female ethics because it privileges the caregiver over the cared for. Drawing on Socrates' Crito , she shows how an ethic of dialogue can instill a critical respect for the view of the other and the ethical principles absent from the female ethic. (shrink)
In this ground breaking new book, Kirsten Campbell takes up the debate, but instead of asking what feminist politics is or should be, she examines how feminism changes the ways we understand ourselves and others. Using Lacanian psychoanalysis as a starting point, Campbell examines contemporary feminism's turn to accounts of feminist "knowing" to create new conceptions of the political, before going on to develop a theory of that feminist knowing as political practice in itself.
This collection of essays, first published two decades ago, presents central feminist critiques and analyses of natural and social sciences and their philosophies. Unfortunately, in spite of the brilliant body of research and scholarship in these fields in subsequent decades, the insights of these essays remain as timely now as they were then: philosophy and the sciences still presume kinds of social innocence to which they are not entitled. The essays focus on Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hobbes, Rousseau, and Marx; (...) on the 'adversary method' model of philosophic reasoning; on principles of individuation on philosophical ontology and philosophy of language; on individualistic assumptions in psychology; functionalism in sociological and biological theory; evolutionary theory; the methodology of political science; and conceptions of objective inquiry in the sciences. In taking insights of both Liberal and Marxian women's movements into the purportedly most abstract and value-free areas of Western thought, these essays chart sexist and androcentric assumptions, claims and practices in the cognitive, technical cores of Western sciences and their philosophies. They begin to identify the distinctive aspects of women's experiences and locations in male-supremacist social structures which can provide resources needed for the creation of post-androcentric thinking in research, scholarship, and public policy. Such uses of feminist insights remain controversial today, and even among some feminists. These authors were all junior researchers and scholars two decades ago; today many are among the most distinguished senior scholars in their fields. Their work here provides a splendid opportunity for upper-level undergraduate and graduate students in philosophy and the social sciences to explore some of the most intriguing and controversial challenges to disciplinary projects and to public policy today. (shrink)
What makes feminist theory feminist? How did so many different feminisms come to exist? In Fundamental Feminism, Judith Grant addresses these questions by offering a critical exploration of the evolution of feminist theory and the state of feminist thinking today. Grant provides a lively assessment of the major problems of contemporary feminist thought and identifies a set of common assumptions that link the wide variety of feminist theories in existence. Fundamental Feminism calls for nothing (...) less than a substantial revision of the core concepts responsible for shaping feminist theory as we now know it. Grant identifies and critiques three core concepts of feminist theory--"woman," "experience," and "personal politics"--from their origins in pamphlets and writings from the early women's liberation movement to their current construction in feminist thought. She then connects a number of major debates in feminism today to the longstanding influence of these core assumptions. These debates include the hegemony of the white female perspective, the tension between anti-pornography and pro-sex feminists, and the discussions surrounding the challenges presented by postmodernism. Grant gives readers valuable insight into the dilemma facing feminist theory today. Fundamental Feminism is a thorough and provocative analysis that will be essential reading for anyone interested in the future of feminist theory and the power of feminist politics. (shrink)
As has been noted by Alvin Goldman, there are some very interesting similarities between his Veritistic Social Epistemology (VSE) and Sandra Harding's Feminist Standpoint Theory (FST). In the present paper, it is argued that these similarities are so significant as to motivate an incorporation of FST into VSE, considering that (i) a substantial common ground can be found; (ii) the claims that go beyond this common ground are logically compatible; and (iii) the generality of VSE not only does justice (...) to the inclusive ambition of FST, but even solves a well-discussed problem for the latter. (shrink)
This paper argues that communitarian philosophy can be an important philosophic resource for feminist thinkers, particularly when considered in the light of Jane Addams's (1860-1935) feminist-pragmatism. Addams's communitarianism requires progressive change as well as a moral duty to seek out diverse voices. Contrary to some contemporary communitarians, Addams extends her concept of community to include interdependent global communities, such as the global community of women peace workers.
Pragmatist philosopher John Dewey famously stated that man is a creature of habit, and not of reason or instinct. In this paper, I will assess Dewey’s explication of the habituated self and the potential it holds for radical transformative processes. In particular, I will examine the process of coming to feminist consciousness, and will show that a feminist-pragmatist reading of change can accommodate a view of the self as responsible agent. Following the elucidation of the changing self, I (...) will appraise key pragmatist concepts of inquiry, such as doubt and self-reflexivity, with regard to their treatment of deep-seated internalisations of oppressive norms and the initiation of change. Ultimately, I will argue that a feminist-pragmatist understanding of transformation is conducive not only to the project of personal transformation, but also to social and political change more generally. (shrink)
The precondition of any feminist politics – a usable category of ‘woman’ – has proved to be difﬁcult to construct, even proposed to be impossible, given the ‘problem of exclusion’. This is the inevitable exclusion of at least some women, as their lives or experiences do not ﬁt into the necessary and sufﬁcient condition(s) that denotes group membership. In this paper, I propose that the problem of exclusion arises not because of inappropriate category membership criteria, but because of the (...) presumption that categories can only be organised by identity relations or shared properties among their members. This criterion of sameness as well as the characterisation of this exclusion as essentialism attests to a metaphysics that is not conducive to resistance and liberatory projects. Following a strain of hybrid thinking in feminist and post-colonial theory, I outline an alternative pluralist logic that confronts oppressive binaries that impede theory work in gender, sexuality, and race theory, and limit political action and resistance. The problem of exclusion is neither irresolvable nor is it essentialism. Instead it is a denial of subjectivity due to pseudodualistic self/Other dichotomies that can be resisted by adopting a new categorial logic. While this paper focuses on the speciﬁc problem of formulating a category of ‘woman’, it has implications for other areas of gender, critical race, and postcolonial theory. Rather than working toward an inclusive category founded on sameness, theorists need to develop independent and positive categories grounded in difference. Our current categorial logic does not permit such a project, and therefore a new metaphysics must be adopted. (shrink)
The history of modern philosophy is a major topic in philosophy and is crucial to an understanding of the advent of feminist philosophy. Feminism and Modern Philosophy introduces fundamental topics in modern philosophy from a feminist perspective. It takes the student through the subject step by step by looking at the main thinkers most usually examined on a course in modern philosophy and by examining the role of gender in studying classic philosophical texts. The book covers the following (...) structure looking at the ideas and work of the important thinkers in this period: * Rereading the canon * The attack on modernist philosophical reason * The nature of "Man" * The search for male allies * Discovering women philosophers * Are there universal philosophical truths? * The function of history within the discipline of philosophy Each chapter looks closely at the way in which the traditional philosophical canon has been re-interpreted by feminist theory and examines the implications for our interpretation of specific texts. It looks at, for example: * A feminist critique of Cartesian rationalism * The implications of Locke's state of nature for the idea of the family * An appreciation of Hume's unique "collaboration" with Annette Baier Chapters close with a summary and the book contains an extensive annotated bibliography. Andrea Nye's style is student friendly and will be ideal for anyone coming to the topic for the first time. It will be appropriate for philosophy as well as gender studies courses looking at the development of modern Western thought. (shrink)
Jean Hampton argues that we can detect exploitation in personal relationships by thinking about what we would agree to were we to set aside the emotional benefits we receive from those relationships. Hampton calls her account "feminist contractarianism," but it has recently been critiqued as decidedly unfeminist, on the grounds that it is hostile to women's interests and women's values. Furthermore, Hampton's requirement that we imaginatively distance ourselves from our emotional connections to our loved ones--the key element in her (...) contractarian test--is simply ad hoc. In this essay, I will evaluate these objections and offer a new justification for Hampton's test. I conclude that feminist contractarianism is not only a useful tool for detecting exploitation in the family, it is also deserving of its feminist label. (shrink)
Differences That Matter challenges existing ways of theorising the relationship between feminism and postmodernism which ask 'is or should feminism be modern or postmodern?' Sara Ahmed suggests that postmodernism has been allowed to dictate feminist debates and calls instead for feminist theorists to speak (back) to postmodernism, rather than simply speak on (their relationship to) it. Such a 'speaking back' involves a refusal to position postmodernism as a generalisable condition of the world and requires closer readings of what (...) postmodernism is actually 'doing' in a variety of disciplinary contexts. Sara Ahmed hence examines constructions of postmodernism in relation to rights, ethics, subjectivity, authorship, meta-fiction and film. (shrink)
Christine Battersby rethinks questions of embodiment, essence, sameness and difference, self and "other", patriarchy and power. Using analyses of Kant, Adorno, Irigaray, Butler, Kierkegaard and Deleuze, she challenges those who argue that a feminist metaphysics is a a contradiction in terms. This book explores place for a metaphysics of fluidity in the current debates concerning postmodernism, feminism and identity politics.