Kant's moral theory and Feminist Ethics: Women, embodiment, care relations, and systemic injustice

In Pieranna Garavaso (ed.), The Bloomsbury Companion to Academic Feminism. pp. 459-482 (2018)

Helga Varden
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
By setting the focus on issues of dependence and embodiment, feminist work has and continues to radically improve our understanding of Kant’s practical philosophy as one that is not (as it typically has been taken to be) about disembodied abstract rational agents. This paper outlines this positive development in Kant scholarship in recent decades by taking us from Kant’s own comments on women through major developments in Kant scholarship with regard to the related feminist issues. The main aim is to provide an overview of the philosophical resources already available in the literature as well as a sense of where main interpretive and philosophical challenges currently lie. More specifically, I start with a brief summary of the kinds of statements Kant makes about women that give rise to the many interpretive and philosophical puzzles facing anyone who reads his philosophy carefully. I then provide a brief historical overview of many of the pioneering women Kant scholars who made it possible for there to be so many excellent women scholars in the Kant community today and for firmly establishing the condition of woman as a point of inquiry on the philosophical map. The last section is organized in themes to give the reader a sense of the current, related discussions. I provide an overview of the more recent literature regarding Kant on women, embodiment (sexual objectification, sexual activity, sexual violence, abortion), care relations (marriage, dependents, servants), and systemic injustice (poverty, sex work, and oppression). As we will see, these many engagements with Kant’s philosophy not only help us to better understand our inherited women-undermining and problematic dependency-furthering institutions and practices, but also provide ample philosophical resources that can be utilized in our efforts to envision the project of reform such that we can achieve a better future for each and all.
Keywords Kant, care relations, systemic injustice, feminist philosophy
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive
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

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Kant on Moral Agency and Women's Nature.Mari Mikkola - 2011 - Kantian Review 16 (1):89-111.
Kant's Ethical Duties and Their Feminist Implications.Lara Denis - 2002 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Supplementary Volume 28 (Supplement):157-87.
Kant and Women.Helga Varden - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (4):653-694.
Kant and Social Sentiments.Herlinde Pauer-Studer - 1994 - Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook 2:279-288.
Feministische Religionsphilosophie – ein innovatives Projekt.Brigitte Buchhammer - 2014 - Labyrinth: An International Journal for Philosophy, Value Theory and Sociocultural Hermeneutics 16 (2):66-91.
Sexual Objectification: From Kant to Contemporary Feminism.Evangelia Papadaki - 2007 - Contemporary Political Theory 6 (3):330-348.
Contested Terrains: New Feminist Perspectives on Embodiment.Clara Fischer & Luna Dolezal - 2018 - In Clara Fischer & Luna Dolezal (eds.), New Feminist Perspectives on Embodiment. London, New York: Palgrave MacMillan. pp. 1-13.
Distancing Kantian Ethics and Politics From Kant's Views on Women.Mason Cash - 2002 - Minerva - An Internet Journal of Philosophy 6 (1).


Added to PP index

Total views
38 ( #212,630 of 2,249,161 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
38 ( #18,922 of 2,249,161 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature