Ontological Commitments, Sex and Gender

In Charlotte Witt (ed.), Feminist Metaphysics. Springer. pp. 67--83 (2011)
  Copy   BIBTEX


This paper develops an alternative for (what feminists call) ‘the sex/gender distinction’. I do so in order to avoid certain problematic implications that the distinction underpins. First, the sex/gender distinction paradigmatically holds that some social conditions determine one’s gender (whether one is a woman or a man), and that some biological conditions determine one’s sex (whether one is female or male). Further, sex and gender come apart. Since gender is socially constructed, this implies that women exist mind-dependently, or due to productive human social activities; thus, it should be possible to do away with them just by altering the social conditions on which gender depends. In addition, some feminists take gender to depend on oppressive social conditions. Changing our social environments, then, would not only unwittingly eradicate women; doing away with women should be feminism’s political goal. I argue that both implications are unacceptable. In response, I argue for a view that has ontological commitments which are more congenial to ordinary thinking, and that doesn’t have the goal of eradicating women.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,347

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

535 (#34,904)

6 months
43 (#95,352)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Mari Mikkola
University of Amsterdam

Citations of this work

Real Talk on the Metaphysics of Gender.Robin Dembroff - 2018 - Philosophical Topics 46 (2):21-50.
(What) Is Feminist Logic? (What) Do We Want It to Be?Catharine Saint-Croix & Roy T. Cook - 2024 - History and Philosophy of Logic 45 (1):20-45.
The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Methodology.Herman Cappelen, Tamar Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.) - 2016 - Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
Finean Feminist Metaphysics.Asya Passinsky - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 64 (9):937-954.

View all 23 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

Ontology and Social Construction.Sally Haslanger - 1995 - Philosophical Topics 23 (2):95-125.
Gender and Race.Jennifer Saul - 2006 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 80 (1):119-143.
Feminist perspectives on sex and gender.Mari Mikkola - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

View all 8 references / Add more references