Not the Social Kind: anti-naturalist mistakes in the philosophical history of womanhood


I trace a brief history of philosophical discussion of the concept WOMAN and identify two key points at which, I argue, things went badly wrong. The first was where when it was agreed that the concept WOMAN must identify a social not biological kind. The second was where it was decided that the concept WOMAN faced a legitimate challenge of being insufficiently “inclusive”, understood in a certain way. I’ll argue that both of these moves are only intelligible, if at all, in the context of an anti-naturalist picture drawn from either post-structuralism or radical feminism. They become incoherent when adopted by methodological naturalists, who – especially when concerned to track oppression and discrimination – have no good reason to deny that WOMAN refers to a pre-given, biological kind.



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Kathleen Stock
University of Sussex

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