Are breast implants better than female genital mutilation? autonomy, gender equality and nussbaum's political liberalism

This essay considers the tension between political liberalism and gender equality in the light of social construction and multiculturalism. The tension is exemplified by the work of Martha Nussbaum, who tries to reconcile a belief in the universality of certain liberal values such as gender equality with a political liberal tolerance for cultural practices that violate gender equality. The essay distinguishes between first? and second?order conceptions of autonomy, and shows that political liberals mistakenly prioritise second?order autonomy. This prioritisation leads political liberals to seek to limit state interference in individuals' choices. However, the essay argues that if options, choices and the preferences which lead to them are socially influenced or constructed, it is no longer clear that state non?interference secures autonomy. Instead, it becomes a matter of justice what the content of the social or state influence is, which options are open to people, and political liberalism cannot deal with many forms of injustice. Rather than emphasising state neutrality, liberals should endorse state prohibition of practices which cause significant harm to those who choose them, if they are chosen only in response to unjust norms
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/1369823042000269366
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 28,191
External links

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
What Is Mutilation?Nicholas C. Lund-Molfese - 2003 - American Journal of Bioethics 3 (2):64-65.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Female Autonomy, Education and the Hijab.Cécile Laborde - 2006 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 9 (3):351-377.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

124 ( #39,260 of 2,172,602 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

6 ( #46,318 of 2,172,602 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums