Gender as a historical kind: a tale of two genders?

Biology and Philosophy 33 (3-4):21 (2018)
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Is there anything that members of each binary category of gender have in common? Even many non-essentialists find the lack of unity within a gender worrying as it undermines the basis for a common political agenda for women. One promising proposal for achieving unity is by means of a shared historical lineage of cultural reproduction with past binary models of gender. I demonstrate how such an account is likely to take on board different binary and also non-binary systems of gender. This implies that all individuals construed as members of the category, “women” are in fact not members of the same historical kind after all! I then consider different possible means of modifying the account but conclude negatively: the problem runs deeper than has been appreciated thus far.

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Marion Godman
Cambridge University

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