About this topic

Work in this area  explores the philosophical dimensions of mothering, including (at least) considerations of pregnancy, adoption, childbirth, and mothering, and draws from a well of interdisciplinary work and first-hand experiences.  This topic area includes issues related to pregnancy, adoption, childbirth, and mothering and intersects with virtually every field of philosophy, including metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, social and political philosophy, aesthetics, and critical race and disability theory.  There are urgent ethical matters regarding the value of motherhood in general and to potential mothers in particular; some, but not all of which, are related to care ethics.  Motherhood provides a perfect opportunity to raises aesthetic issues of beauty and disgust and questions about how aesthetic taste and judgment might interact with parental feelings of moral obligation. There are also social and political issues, such as the long-standing feminist debate over whether pregnancy and/or motherhood is liberating or enslaving, in women’s interest or against it, the challenges of anti-racist mothering in a white supremacist culture, and the responsibilities of a community to families.  Metaphysical, phenomenological, and epistemological questions also arise when we reflect on the physical experience of being pregnant: for example, questions about the oneness and duplication of souls and bodies, the extension of bodies, the existence of non-material beings, and the relationship between the identity of mothers and their children, as well as questions about knowledge and the value of truth and truth-telling.   

Key works One of the earliest works on feminism and mothering is "Of Women Born" by Adrienne Rich (1974). Later feminist philosophy of mothering should not be viewed as synonymous with care ethics, but two of the foundational works in the field of feminist mothering is Ruddick 1989 and Held 1993. For an influential argument for why feminists ought be wary of marriage and motherhood there is Card 1996.
Introductions Ferguson 1986; Diquinzio 1993.
Related categories

522 found
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  1. added 2018-09-21
    Moral Reasons Not to Breastfeed: A Response to Woollard and Porter.Laura Frances Callahan - forthcoming - Journal of Medical Ethics:medethics-2018-104989.
    Woollard and Porter argue that mothers have no moral duty to breastfeed their babies. Rather, mothers simply have moral reason(s) to breastfeed, stemming from the benefits of breast feeding for babies. According to Woollard and Porter, doing what one has moral reason to do is often supererogatory, not obligatory. I agree that mothers have no moral duty to breastfeed. However, it is misleading to suggest that mothers in general have moral reason to breastfeed and to liken not breastfeeding to not (...)
  2. added 2018-05-20
    Confucian Mothering: The Origin of Tiger Mothering?Ranjoo Seodu Herr - 2016 - In Mathew Foust & Sor-Hoon Tan (eds.), Feminist Encounters with Confucius. Boston, USA: Brill. pp. 40-68.
    In recent years, the notion of “tiger mother” has been popularized since Amy Chua’s publication of her memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (2011). This notion is allegedly representative of “Chinese” mothering that produces “stereotypically successful kids” (ibid., p.3). No wonder, the characteristics of the tiger mother revolve around strict disciplining and pressuring of children to excel academically based on her assumption that children “owe everything” to her and that she knows “what is best for [the] children” (ibid., p.53). (...)
  3. added 2018-03-20
    Creating Life, Giving Birth, and Learning to Die.Brooke Schueneman - 2012 - In Sheila Lintott & Maureen Sander-Staudt (eds.), Philosophical Inquiries into Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Mothering: Maternal Subjects. New York: Routledge. pp. 165-177.
  4. added 2018-02-17
    No More Mothers?: How Attenuating Factors Are Changing the Identity.Naomi Zack - 2009 - Social Philosophy Today 25:17-30.
    The role of motherhood was attenuated over the second half of the twentieth century, by literal and metaphorical factors: Privileged women gained control over their reproduction and developed non-mothering life priorities; government and society became less nurturing in public ideals; projects of spontaneous speciation began in biology; the environment became unsustaining. In addition, feminist criticism resulted in greater individuation between the persons of mothers and their children. With these changes, the role of motherhood lacks a positive identity, culturally and psychically. (...)
  5. added 2017-07-14
    Review of Blended: Writers on the Stepfamily Experience. [REVIEW]Shelley M. Park - 2016 - Journal of the Motherhood Initiative 7 (1):211-12.
  6. added 2017-07-14
    Review of Philosophical Inquiries Into Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Mothering: Maternal Subjects. [REVIEW]Shelley M. Park - 2012 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2012:n.p..
  7. added 2017-07-14
    Parents and Children: An Alternative to Selfless and Unconditional Love.Amy Mullin - 2006 - Hypatia 21 (1):181-200.
    I develop a model of love or care between children and their parents guided by experiences of parents, especially mothers, with disabilities. On this model, a caring relationship requires both parties to be aware of each other as a particular person and it requires reciprocity. This does not mean that children need to be able to articulate their interests, or that they need to be self-reflectively aware of their parents' interests or personhood. Instead, parents and children manifest their understanding of (...)
  8. added 2017-07-14
    Review of A Question of David: A Disabled Mother's Journey Through Adoption. [REVIEW]Shelley M. Park - 2003 - Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering 5 (2):202-204.
  9. added 2017-07-14
    Review of Naked Motherhood. [REVIEW]Shelley M. Park - 2002 - Journal of the Association for Research on Motherhood 4 (2):230-32.
  10. added 2017-07-13
    When We Handed Out the Crayolas, They Just Stared at Them.Shelley M. Park - 2016 - Philosophy in the Contemporary World 23 (1):71-90.
    In 2008, over 400 children living on the Yearning for Zion Ranch, a rural Texas polygamist community of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, were forcibly removed from their mothers’ care by State troopers responding to allegations of child abuse. This essay examines the role of neoliberal ideologies and, more specifically, what some queer theorists have identified as ‘metronormativity’ in solidifying a widespread caricature of FLDS mothers as ‘bad’ mothers. The intersections of these ideologies with (...)
  11. added 2017-02-15
    Reading with Love: Reading of Life Narrative of a Mother of a Child with Cerebral Palsy.Daniela Mercieca & Duncan P. Mercieca - 2014 - Ethics and Education 9 (3):264-275.
    This paper draws upon Deleuze and Guattari's ideas to suggest a different kind of reading of a narrative of a mother of a child with severe disability, and thus a different kind of ethical response to them. This reading gives readers the possibility of opening up experiences of parents and children with disability, rather than compartmentalising such stories. The reader becomes, is transformed, through reading these narratives and through engaging with the intensities which are recognised in the text, asking the (...)
  12. added 2017-02-15
    Encyclopedia of Motherhood Sage Publications, Inc., First Edition, April 6 2010.Andrea O'Reilly (ed.) - 2010 - Sage Publications.
  13. added 2017-02-15
    Measurement of Maternal and Child Mortality Morbidity and Health Care: Interdisciplinary Approaches.J. Ties Boerma, S. Meyer, E. Schulze, K. M. Cleaver, G. A. Schreiber, J. A. Adetunji, G. Kaufmann, J. Cleland, E. Garrett & A. Wear - 1994 - Journal of Biosocial Science 26 (4):469-77.
  14. added 2017-02-15
    The King's Mother: Lady Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby. [REVIEW]Lorraine Attreed - 1994 - Speculum 69 (1):184-186.
  15. added 2017-02-15
    The Breastfeeding Programme in Brazil.P. Marin, Y. P. de Oliveira, M. T. Asquith, M. M. Wellington, I. Narayanan, M. Carballo, R. E. Jones, D. Munyakho, R. A. Bell & H. Marcovitch - 1989 - Journal of Biosocial Science 21 (1):153-60.
  16. added 2017-02-14
    The Influence of Birth Order on Birth Weight: Does Sex of the Preceding Siblings Matter?Karine Côté, Ray Blanchard & Martin L. Lalumiere - 2003 - Journal of Biosocial Science 35 (3):455-462.
  17. added 2017-02-14
    Mary Dockray-Miller, Motherhood and Mothering in Anglo-Saxon England.(The New Middle Ages.) New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000. Pp. Xiv, 161; Genealogical Tables. $39.95. [REVIEW]Katherine L. French - 2002 - Speculum 77 (1):164-165.
  18. added 2017-02-14
    Determinants of Use of Maternal-Child Health Services in Rural Ghana.Isaac Addai - 2000 - Journal of Biosocial Science 32 (1):1-15.
  19. added 2017-02-14
    How Infants Grow Mothers in North London.D. Miller - 1997 - Theory, Culture and Society 14 (4):67-88.
  20. added 2017-02-14
    Mothers' Speech Research: From Input to Interaction.Catherine E. Snow - 1977 - In Catherine E. Snow & Charles A. Ferguson (eds.), Talking to Children. Cambridge University Press. pp. 31--49.
  21. added 2017-02-14
    War and the Birth-Rate.L. J. Cadbury - 1945 - The Eugenics Review 37 (2):83.
  22. added 2017-02-14
    The Birth-Rate.O. M. Johnson - 1944 - The Eugenics Review 36 (1):43.
  23. added 2017-02-14
    The Birth Rate.B. Dunlop - 1942 - The Eugenics Review 34 (2):77.
  24. added 2017-02-14
    Some Birth-Rate Problems.Leonard Darwin - 1921 - The Eugenics Review 12 (4):279.
  25. added 2017-02-13
    Complicated Choledochal Cysts in Pregnancy.Dragojlo Gmijović, Miroslav Stojanović, Milan Radojković, Ljiljana Jeremić & Zlatko Širić - 2006 - Facta Universitatis 13 (2):90-93.
  26. added 2017-02-13
    The Influence of Birth Order on Birth Weight: Does the Sex of Preceding Siblings Matter?Karine Ct, Ray Blanchard & Martin L. Lalumire - 2003 - Journal of Biosocial Science 35 (3):455-462.
  27. added 2017-02-13
    A Biocultural Investigation of the Weanling’s Dilemma in Kathmandu, Nepal: Do Universal Recommendations for Weaning Practices Make Sense?Tina Moffat - 2001 - Journal of Biosocial Science 33 (3):321-338.
  28. added 2017-02-13
    Infant and Young Child Feeding Practices Among African Pastoralists: The Datoga of Tanzania.Daniel W. Sellen - 1998 - Journal of Biosocial Science 30 (4):481-499.
  29. added 2017-02-13
    The Hungriest Narrative: Devouring Mother Ireland.Kathy Cremin - 1998 - In John Arnold, Kate Davies & Simon Ditchfield (eds.), History and Heritage: Consuming the Past in Contemporary Culture. Donhead. pp. 141--153.
  30. added 2017-02-13
    Maternal Education and Family Income as Determinants of Severe Disease Following Acute Diarrhoea in Children: A Case Control Study.Dilip Mahalanabis, Abu S. G. Faruque, Asma Islam & Syed S. Hoque - 1996 - Journal of Biosocial Science 28 (2):129-39.
  31. added 2017-02-13
    Influence of Birth Interval and Child Labour on Family Energy Requirements and Dependency Ratios in Two Traditional Subsistence Economics in Africa.Stanley J. Ulijaszek - 1993 - Journal of Biosocial Science 25 (1):79-86.
  32. added 2017-02-13
    Season of Birth and Recalled Age at Menarche.Jesper L. Boldsen - 1992 - Journal of Biosocial Science 24 (2):167-174.
    All 8th-form schoolgirls from the municipality of Odense in Denmark were asked at what age they reached menarche, and 886 girls gave this information. There is no evidence for seasonality in the time of birth but for far more girls than expected menarche occurred during winter or summer and fewer than expected during spring and autumn. This pattern appears primarily in girls living in the suburbs and was not seen in those living in central Odense. The seasonality appears to be (...)
  33. added 2017-02-13
    Oral Rehydration Therapy and its Effect on Child Mortality in Egypt.Hoda Rashad - 1989 - Journal of Biosocial Science 21 (S10):105-113.
  34. added 2017-02-13
    Demographic Components of Seasonality of Pregnancy.Jeffrey E. Kallan & J. Richard Udry - 1989 - Journal of Biosocial Science 21 (1):101-108.
  35. added 2017-02-13
    Ethnic Differentials in Early Childhood Mortality in Nepal.Minja Kim Choe, Robert D. Retherford, Bhakta B. Gubhaju & Shyam Thapa - 1989 - Journal of Biosocial Science 21 (2):223.
  36. added 2017-02-13
    Birth Interval, Mortality and Growth of Children in a Rural Area in Kenya.J. T. Boerma & H. A. W. Van Vianen - 1984 - Journal of Biosocial Science 16 (4):475.
  37. added 2017-02-13
    Impact of Child Mortality and Sociodemographic Attributes on Family Size Desires: Some Data From Urban India.D. N. Saksena & J. N. Srivastava - 1984 - Journal of Biosocial Science 16 (1):119.
  38. added 2017-02-13
    Age at Menarche, at First Intercourse, and at First Pregnancy.J. Richard Udry - 1979 - Journal of Biosocial Science 11 (4):433.
  39. added 2017-02-13
    Socio-Economic Factors and the Sex Ratio at Birth.Michael S. Teitelbaum & Nathan Mantel - 1971 - Journal of Biosocial Science 3 (1):23.
  40. added 2017-02-12
    Book Review: Daughter Zion, Mother Zion: Gender, Space, and the Sacred in Ancient Israel. [REVIEW]Amy C. Merrill Willis - 2010 - Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 64 (1):98-98.
  41. added 2017-02-12
    Unmet Need for Contraception Among HIV-Positive Women in Lesotho and Implications for Mother-to-Child Transmission.Timothy Adair - 2009 - Journal of Biosocial Science 41 (2):269-278.
    In Lesotho, the risk of mother-to-child-transmission (MTCT) of HIV is substantial; women of childbearing age have a high HIV prevalence rate (26·4%), low knowledge of HIV status and a total fertility rate of 3·5 births per woman. An effective means of preventing MTCT is to reduce unwanted fertility. This paper examines the unmet need for contraception to limit and space births among HIV-positive women in Lesotho aged 15–49 years, using the 2004 Lesotho Demographic and Health Survey. HIV-positive women have their (...)
  42. added 2017-02-12
    Conceiving Pregnancy.Christopher M. Gacek - 2009 - The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly 9 (3):542-557.
  43. added 2017-02-12
    Law's Response to Pregnancy/Workplace Conflicts: A Critique. [REVIEW]C. Grace James - 2007 - Feminist Legal Studies 15 (2):167-188.
    This paper considers law’s engagement with pregnancy/workplace conflicts. Drawing on recent research, including original empirical research conducted by the author, I consider how law’s response is ineffective. The nature of this ‘ineffective response’ is explored and in particular I consider the gap between, on the one hand, legal prescriptions and policy ambitions and, on the other hand, the reality of pregnancy/workplace conflicts. In essence, law fails to capture the experiences of pregnant women and new mothers at work and this is (...)
  44. added 2017-02-12
    Child Work and Schooling in Bangladesh: The Role of Birth Order.Rasheda Khanam & Mohammad Mafizur Rahman - 2007 - Journal of Biosocial Science 39 (5):641-656.
    Using data from Bangladesh, this paper examines how the birth order of a child influences parental decisions to place children in one of four activities: 'study only', 'study and work', 'neither work nor study' and 'work only'. The results of the multinomial logit model show that being a first-born child increases the probability of work as the prime activity, or at least a combination of school and work, rather than schooling only. The results confirm that later-born children are more likely (...)
  45. added 2017-02-12
    A Pregnant Pause: Federalism, Equality and the Maternity and Parental Leave Debate in Canada. [REVIEW]Gillian Calder - 2006 - Feminist Legal Studies 14 (1):99-118.
    In Reference re E.I. the Supreme Court of Canada was asked to assess the constitutionality of the federally administered maternity and parental leave benefit regime. This social programme has been a key site of feminist struggle in Canada, with attention focused in recent years on whether the benefit, as delivered, was an equality-enhancing regime. This note examines the way in which the questions posed to the Supreme Court of Canada were framed in a manner that obscured the essential equality dimensions (...)
  46. added 2017-02-12
    Changing Patterns of Social Variation in Stature in Poland: Effects of Transition From a Command Economy to the Free-Market System?T. Bielicki, A. Szklarska, S. Koziel & S. J. Ulijaszek - 2005 - Journal of Biosocial Science 37 (4):427-434.
    The aim of this analysis was to examine the effects on stature in two nationally representative samples of Polish 19-year-old conscripts of maternal and paternal education level, and of degree of urbanization, before and after the economic transition of 1990. Data were from two national surveys of 19-year-old Polish conscripts: 27,236 in 1986 and 28,151 in 2001. In addition to taking height measurements, each subject was asked about the socioeconomic background of their families, including paternal and maternal education, and the (...)
  47. added 2017-02-12
    Low Birth Weight, Maternal Birth-Spacing Decisions, and Future Reproduction.Tamas Bereczkei, Adam Hofer & Zsuzsanna Ivan - 2000 - Human Nature 11 (2):183-205.
    The aim of this study is an analysis of the possible adaptive consequences of delivery of low birth weight infants. We attempt to reveal the cost and benefit components of bearing small children, estimate the chance of the infants’ survival, and calculate the mothers’ reproductive success. According to life-history theory, under certain circumstances mothers can enhance their lifetime fitness by lowering the rate of investment in an infant and/or enhancing the rate of subsequent births. We assume that living in a (...)
  48. added 2017-02-12
    Wholly... A Daughter of Our People.Margaret Betz Hull - 2000 - Social Philosophy Today 16:35-46.
    German political philosopher Hannah Arendt offers a distinctive, sometimes controversial, understanding of her Jewish heritage through her use of the notion"conscious pariah" and the role she allowed her Jewishness to play in her identity. Based on her interactive theory of unique human identity as constructed through political action, Arendt envisioned public acknowledgement of her Jewishness as a performative, political act of allegiance, not a statement of fixed identity. Arendt's insistence that the personal facticity of human identity only be given strategic (...)
  49. added 2017-02-12
    What Teen Mothers Know.Arline T. Geronimus - 1996 - Human Nature 7 (4):323-352.
    In the United States, low-income or minority populations tend toward earlier births than the more advantaged. In disadvantaged populations, one factor that may exert pressure toward early births is “weathering,” or pervasive health uncertainty. Are subjective perceptions of health related to fertility timing? Drawing on a small sample of intensive interviews with teenage mothers-to-be, I suggest that low-income African American teenagers may expect uncertain health and short lifespans. Where family economies and caretaking systems are based on kin networks, such perceptions (...)
  50. added 2017-02-12
    Birth Intervals Regarding Infant Mortality and Extramarital Reproduction in a Spanish Rural Community.V. Fuster, A. Jiménez & B. Morales - 1995 - Journal of Biosocial Science 27 (4):421-429.
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