Let’s be Reasonable

Southwest Philosophy Review 25 (1):127-134 (2009)
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Feminist philosophy is highly critical of Cartesian, and more broadly Enlightenment, conceptions of rationality. However, feminist philosophers typically fail to address contemporary theories of rationality and to consider how more current thoeories address feminist concerns. I argue that, contrary to their protestations, feminists are “obsessing over an outdated conception of reason” and that even the most suspect of “malestream” philosophers express an understanding of rationality that is closer to feminist concerns than Cartesian ones. I begin by briefly examining key features of Cartesian rationality and discuss how these features are largely rejected by contemporary philosophy and cognitve science. I then discuss how the philosophical accounts of Robert Nozick and Robert Audi refelect this rejection of Cartesian rationality. Finally, I discuss how the views of Nozick and Audi are in line with many feminist concerns, and I argue that feminists need to take seriously some theory of rationality.

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Deborah Heikes
University of Alabama, Huntsville

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