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Area: Philosophy of Gender

| Baier | Card | Haslanger | Held | Mackenzie | Mikkola | Nussbaum |


Baier, A

Baier,# A. C. (1991). Whom can Women Trust? In Feminist Ethics, Card, Claudia (ed.) Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.

Kw: trust; women

The main questions addressed are whether women can trust women more justifiably than they can trust men, and in particular whether and when daughters should trust their mothers. The work of Nancy Chodorow, on "the reproduction of mothering," and of Francine du Plessix Gray, on women-women and mother-daughter relations in the Soviet Union, are discussed. The conclusions drawn are guarded, but not pessimistic.


Card, C.

Card,# C. (2006). The L Word and the F Word. Hypatia 21 (2): 223- 229

Kw: Language; feminism

In the jargon of today's mainstream mass media, 'liberal' has become the L word and 'feminist' has become the F word. This co-opting of L and F trades on public squeamishness regarding the designations of earlier, and blunter, L and F words. 'Liberal' and 'feminist' are being shooed toward closets formerly inhabited by 'lesbian' and 'fuck'--words that liberals (in the case of 'fuck') and feminists (in the case of 'lesbian') worked so enthusiastically to bring out of the closet in the second half of the twentieth century. What an interesting reversal, this move to closet the outers! Revenge, perhaps? An aspect of the revenge: closeting them together? 'Liberal' and 'feminist' often sit uneasily in proximity to one another. Yet in the current reactionary political climate, uneasiness regarding 'liberal' should be problematic for feminists. Readers of this journal need no prodding to resist the closeting of 'feminist.' About 'liberal,' the case is less clear. 'Liberal' receives a load of flack from the political left as well as from the right. Feminist philosophers have contributed substantial flack from the left. Closets are a foreseeable outcome of the creation of a derogatory, scornful aura around a concept, investing it with an emotive load that can easily embarrass any who might find the concept applicable to themselves. (First Paragraph)


Card,# C. (1999). The Road to Lake Wobegon. Journal of Social Philosophy 30 (3): 369- 378

Kw: Ethics; justice; law; morality

James Sterba's book 'Justice for Here and Now' applies a peace-making approach to many contemporary controversies in social justice, including issues of feminism and homosexuality. He argues for family and workplace restructuring as means to enabling women and men alike to develop all the virtues of good human beings. An alternative to Sterba's strategy, perhaps more likely to achieve that end, questions the practice of heterosexual cohabitation and encourages same sex households. This essay develops and defends that alternative.

Card,# C. (1998). Radicalesbianfeminist Theory. Hypatia 13 (1): 206- 213

Kw: Lesbian oppression; women; sexism; women’s liberation

Cheshire Calhoun has been working to distinguish lesbian oppression from the sexist oppression of women in general, with the idea that different strategies may be needed to oppose each. On a radical feminist understanding of sexism, however, lesbian oppression is a very important part of the oppression of females generally. Women's liberation requires opposition to lesbian oppression. Or so I argue in supporting radicalesbianfeminism as a unified theory.

Card,# C. (1996). Against Marriage and Motherhood. Hypatia 11 (3): 1- 23

Kw: Lesbian and gay rights; parenthood; marriage; intimate unions

This essay argues that current advocacy of lesbian and gay rights to legal marriage and parenthood insufficiently criticizes both marriage and motherhood as they are currently practiced and structured by Northern legal institutions. Instead we would do better not to let the State define our intimate unions and parenting would be improved if the power presently concentrated in the hands of one or two guardians were diluted and distributed through an appropriately concerned community.


Card,# C. (1994). The Military ban and the ROTC: A Study in Closeting. Journal of Homosexuality 27 (3- 4): 117- 46

Kw: Lesbian and gay; discrimination; military; exclusion

This article examines reasons for university involvement in protesting ROTC policies discriminatory toward lesbians and gay men. The formal exclusion of lesbians and gay men from the military permits not only the abuses in selective enforcement of the policy and considerable economic costs to maintain it, but also contributes to the perpetuation of the closet. Closeting is not a phenomenon chosen by lesbians and gay men for reasons of their own, and it rewards deceit, penalizes honesty, blames lesbians and gays for the mistrust of others, and effects a psychological division ("doubling") of individual identity and corrupts individual responsibility. For these reasons, university educators, as committed to the advance of truth, have an obligation to protest ROTC compliance with discriminatory policies


Card,# C. (1990). Why Homophobia? Hypatia5 (3): 110- 117

Kw: Homophobia; pride; shame

Suzanne Pharr's Homophobia: A Weapon of Sexism may be an effective tool for women committed to overcoming their own homophobia who want practical advice on recognizing and eradicating it, although as an essay in theory it does not advance the issues. The author seems unaware that Celia Kitzinger has argued recently that "homophobia" is not a helpful concept because it individualizes problems better seen as political and begs the question of the rationality of the fear. I argue that "homophobia" has been misused but that freed of the medical model and understood in connection with issues of pride and shame, it can be a helpful concept.

Card,# C. (1990). Pluralist Lesbian Separatism. (1990). In Lesbian Philosophies and Cultures; Jennifer Allen (ed.); SUNY Press: 125- 142

Kw: Lesbian Philosophy

Abstract not available


Haslanger, S.

Haslanger,# S. (2000). Gender and Race: (What) Are They? (What) Do We Want Them To Be? (2000). Noûs 34 (1): 31- 55.

Kw: Male; female

It is always awkward when someone asks me informally what I’m working on and I answer that I’m trying to figure out what gender is. For outside a rather narrow segment of the academic world, the term ‘gender’ has come to function as the polite way to talk about the sexes. And one thing people feel pretty confident about is their knowledge of the difference between males and females. Males are those human beings with a range of familiar primary and (...) secondary sex characteristics, most important being the penis; females are those with a different set, most important being the vagina or, perhaps, the uterus. Enough said. Against this background, it isn’t clear what could be the point of an inquiry, especially a philosophical inquiry, into “what gender is”.


Held, V.

Held,# V. (2002). Care and the Extension of Markets. Hypatia 17 (2): 19- 33.

Kw: Women; feminist ethics; market

Many activities formerly not in the market are being "marketized," and women's labor is increasingly in the market. I consider the grounds on which to decide what should and what should not be "in" the market. I distinguish work that is paid from work done under "market norms," and argue that market values should not have priority in education, childcare, healthcare, and many other activities. I suggest that a feminist ethics of care is more promising than Kantian ethics or utilitarianism for recommending social decisions concerning limits on markets.

Mackenzie, C.

Mackenzie,# C. (1993). Reason and Sensibility: The Ideal of Women's Self-Governance in the Writings of Mary Wollstonecraft. Hypatia 8 (4):  35- 56

Kw: Mary Wollstonecraft; feminism

Discusses Mary Wollstonecraft's feminism. Interpretation of Wollstonecraft's feminism; Articulation of self-governance for women; Women as autonomous moral agents; Development of women's moral agency; Need for reciprocal friendships and relationships; Respect for women's body; Control over external circumstances of women's life.


Mikkola, M.

Mikkola,# M. (2009). Gender Concepts and Intuitions. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 39 (4): 559- 583.

Woman; gender concept; social traits

This paper has two goals: it takes issue with a revisionary analysis of the concept woman and it defends certain linguistic intuitions about the use of the term `woman.' A number of contemporary feminists have been concerned with how to best define the concept woman: how best to cash out under which conditions someone counts as a woman. This concern strikes non-feminist philosophers and ordinary language users as surprising since (ordinarily) cashing out the said conditions doesn't appear to be problematic: aren't women simply human females? Most feminists disagree. They standardly understand woman as a gender concept and gender ascriptions are taken to depend on some social traits (like one's social role or position). These are distinct from sex ascriptions that are thought to depend on anatomical traits (like chromosomes and genitalia). Further, `woman' and `man' are used as gender terms, `female' and `male' as sex terms. For feminist philosophers, then, being a human female doesn't make one a woman. (First Paragraph)


Mikkola,# M. (2007). Gender Sceptics and Feminist Politics. Res Publica 13 (4):361- 380.

Kw: Skepticism; woman


This has been taken to suggest that (i) the efforts to fix feminism’s scope are undermined because of confusion about the extension of the term ‘woman’, and (ii) this confusion suggests that feminism cannot be organised around women because it is unclear who satisfies woman. Further, this supposedly threatens the effectiveness of feminist politics: feminist goals are said to become unachievable, if feminist politics lacks ( a clear subject matter. In this paper, I argue that such serious consequences do not follow from the gender sceptic position.


Mikkola,# M. (2006). Elizabeth Spelman, Gender Realism, and Women. Hypatia 21 (4): 77- 96.

Kw: Gender realism; feminist philosopher; woman

Elizabeth Spelman has famously argued against gender realism (the view that women have some feature in common that makes them women). By and large, feminist philosophers have embraced Spelman's arguments and deemed gender realist positions counterproductive. To the contrary, Mikkola shows that Spelman's arguments do not in actual fact give good reason to reject gender realism in general. She then suggests a way to understand gender realism that does not have the adverse consequences feminist philosophers commonly think gender realist positions have.


Nussbaum, M.

Nussbaum,# M. C. (2010). A Right to Marry? California Law Review 98 (3): 667-696.

Kw. Marriage law; same-sex marriage; laws and legislation; marriage licenses; martial deduction; marital status

The article reports on the issues of marriage which include the laws that govern the same-sex marriage in California. It mentions two distinct questions expressing the dimensions of marriage including the assumption that granting a marriage license expresses public approval with equal protection of law. Also explained is the arguments behind the opposition of same-sex couples to marital status.


Nussbaum,# M. C. (2005). Women’s Bodies: Violence, Security, Capabilities. 2005. Journal of Human Development 6 (2): 167- 183.

Kw: Women; social security; violence; social problems; threat; cultural relativism; political planning; universalism

Violence against women is a global problem of great magnitude. After laying out some sample data on violence against women, I argue that this violence, and its ongoing threat, interferes with every major capability in a woman's life. Next, I argue that it is the capabilities approach we need, if we are to describe the damage done by such violence in the most perspicuous way and make the most helpful recommendations for dealing with it. But the capabilities approach will be helpful in this area only if it develops effective arguments against cultural relativism and in favor of a context-sensitive universalism, and only if it is willing to make some claims, albeit humble and revisable, about which capabilities are most deserving of state protection, as fundamental entitlements of all citizens. Finally, I sketch some possible implications of the capability approach for public policy in this area.


Nussbaum,# M. C. (2004). Women’s Education: A Global Challenge. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture & Society 29 (2): 325- 355.

Kw: Women; education; social change; economic development; developing countries; adult education of women

The issue of women's education is both urgent and complex. But it has long been the neglected poor relation of the international development world, ignored by many of the most powerful thinkers and actors in this field in favor of the single goal of economic growth, which by itself delivers little to the poor of developing nations. Even when politicians and activists are sensitive to the predicament of the poor, they have often neglected this issue in their own way, preferring to focus on issues such as health and democratization, which appear less culturally controversial. The author have argued that women's education is extremely urgent, indeed a key to women's empowerment. There are no good arguments against making it a top priority for development in this century.


Nussbaum,# M. C. (2002). Other Times, Other Places: Homosexuality in Ancient Greece. Annual of Psychoanalysis 30: 9- 23.

Kw: Homosexuality; Ancient Greece

Focuses on the issue of homosexuality in ancient Greece. Discussion of the interplay between history and the understanding of same gender sexual desire; Description of the relationship between the older and younger male citizen; Analysis of the relationship between Plato and Dion of Syracuse.


Nussbaum,# M. C. (1999). Sex and Social Justice.. New York: Oxford University Press.

Kw: Social justice; dignity; human being

What does it mean to respect the dignity of a human being? What sort of support do human capacities demand from the world, and how should we think about this support when we encounter differences of gender or sexuality? How should we think about each other across divisions that a legacy of injustice has created? In Sex and Social Justice, Martha Nussbaum delves into these questions and emerges with a distinctive conception of feminism that links feminist inquiry closely to the important progress that has been made during the past few decades in articulating theories of both national and global justice.
Growing out of Nussbaum's years of work with an international development agency connected with the United Nations, this collection charts a feminism that is deeply concerned with the urgent needs of women who live in hunger and illiteracy, or under unequal legal systems. Offering an internationalism informed by development economics and empirical detail, many essays take their start from the experiences of women in developing countries. Nussbaum argues for a universal account of human capacity and need, while emphasizing the essential role of knowledge of local circumstance. Further chapters take on the pursuit of social justice in the sexual sphere, exploring the issue of equal rights for lesbians and gay men.
Nussbaum's arguments are shaped by her work on Aristotle and the Stoics and by the modern liberal thinkers Kant and Mill. She contends that the liberal tradition of political thought holds rich resources for addressing violations of human dignity on the grounds of sex or sexuality, provided the tradition transforms itself by responsiveness to arguments concerning the social shaping of preferences and desires. She challenges liberalism to extend its tradition of equal concern to women, always keeping both agency and choice as goals. With great perception, she combines her radical feminist critique of sex relations with an interest in the possibilities of trust, sympathy, and understanding.
Sex and Social Justice will interest a wide readership because of the public importance of the topics Nussbaum addresses and the generous insight she shows in dealing with these issues. Brought together for this timely collection, these essays, extensively revised where previously published, offer incisive political reflections by one of our most important living philosophers.
(Book overview)