Feminist ethics is that branch of ethics that is concerned first and foremost with understanding the oppression of women and developing a normative analysis of its wrongness. Analytical feminist ethics uses the tools and techniques of analytical philosophy, such as conceptual analysis, to further understand the injustices revealed by feminist approaches to ethics. The chapter surveys analytic themes, trends, and tendencies within feminist ethics taking a broad lens on what counts. The chapter offers an account of central issues and themes in analytic feminist philosophical engagements with ethics, reflection on examples of important contributions to this discussion, a discussion the extent to which feminist work has changed or entered the mainstream of the field, and current and future directions in analytic feminist ethics.
Animal studies is a rapidly developing interdisciplinary field. It has roots in both animal ethics and feminist philosophy. While mainstream animal ethics has not yet incorporated the insights from feminist philosophy, work in animal studies has increasingly drawn on and built upon feminist thinking. Feminist animal studies can, in turn, contribute to discussions in feminist ethics and feminist epistemology. In this chapter, three key connected issues that are central to feminist philosophy and important within animal studies are discussed: the centrality of relationships, navigating difference, and speaking for others.
David Haekwon Kim
This chapter explores the intersection of Asian American philosophy and feminist philosophy. It considers feminist issues within Asian American philosophy and examines Asian American feminist philosophy as an important field in its own right that contributes to Asian American philosophy, feminist philosophy, and philosophy of race. The chapter starts with a brief discussion of reasons for including Asian American feminist philosophy in the profession and then elaborates a model for thinking about Asian America and Asian American philosophy, with particular consideration of xenophobic racism and Orientalist hypersexualization. The chapter then examines how Asian American feminist philosophy enriches our historical and social ontological understanding of American nation-building, reconceives important normative themes in philosophy of race, deepens our understanding of invisibility, and complicates our thinking about non-Eurocentric or decolonial feminist dialogue.
This chapter offers an account of central issues and themes in feminist philosophical reflections on bias and objectivity. Some feminists have argued that objectivity is an unachievable and thus inappropriate epistemic norm for human beings. But at the same time, these feminists have criticized philosophy for displaying masculinist bias. This complex critique faces a problem I’ve called the “Bias Paradox” and that Helen Longino calls an “Essential Tension:” how we can criticize partiality at the same time we acknowledge its ubiquity. I explain Longino’s proposed “social empiricist” solution, and contrast it with my own. I argue for a re-conception of “bias” as a normatively neutral epistemic inclination. Biases, in this sense, play a crucial constructive role in the development of human knowledge by solving the problem of underdetermination of theory by evidence. The biases we (correctly) regard as morally bad, such as social prejudice, involve the operation of neutral biases in unpropitious natural or social environments.
This chapter focuses on feminist philosophical engagement with biomedical technologies, such as the development of in vitro fertilisation (IVF), genetic engineering, bionic implants, neural interventions, and synthetic biology. The chapter starts with a short account of the contemporaneous rise of bioethics as a subdiscipline of philosophy, a range of emerging biomedical technologies and the second wave of feminist political action and theory. It outlines some key feminist philosophical approaches to issues in biomedicine: including those focusing on autonomy and choice; care and care work; and the moral significance of narrative, embodiment and phenomenological experience. It ends by identifying some evolving future directions for feminist philosophical contributions to emerging technologies informed by discussion of vulnerability and dependence; disability, neural diversity, and human enhancement.
This chapter discusses the meaning, possibility, and contributions of Black feminist philosophy. The chapter discusses a politics of refusal that characterizes Black women’s theorizing and develops it as a framework for understanding how Black feminist philosophy is more than mere corrective and subversion of mainstream philosophy. As a framework, Black feminist philosophical “politics of refusal” depicts how Black feminist philosophers doing philosophy for Black women and girls refuse to sell themselves short, refuse institutionally imposed intellectual trajectories, and refuse to respond to philosophy’s call to order in their attempts to lay down uncompromisingly Black feminist research agendas in philosophy. The chapter offers an overview of important contributions to the field and discusses how a politics of refusal operates as critique and knowledge production within the field.
Cressida J. Heyes
This chapter offers an overview of central issues and themes in feminist philosophical reflections on the body. It discusses at greater length three specific examples from recent debates in feminist philosophy: how concepts of sex and gender and their juxtaposition have been contested; how the phenomenological tradition has been reworked by critical feminist philosophers; and how feminist philosophers of disability challenge the reification of bodies, refocusing philosophical attention on bodies as always in process. All three debates provide complex and connected challenges to understandings of bodies as both natural and extra-cognitive, especially where these understandings imply that the body is not a proper subject for philosophy, or that the philosopher’s body is not relevant to their work.
Feminist philosophical approaches to migration justice typically employ nonideal methodologies and relational normative frameworks to theorize the complex relationships among intersecting social identities, structural injustice, and global migration. This chapter discusses three such feminist approaches. The first investigates the connections between structural injustice and migration policy, focusing on immigrant admissions and refugee determination. The second explores the feminization of labor migration, with an emphasis on global care chains. Finally, the third feminist approach employs intersectional methodologies to argue that specific US immigration policies work to the detriment of migrant women, particularly women of color.
This chapter offers an account of central issues and themes in continental feminist philosophical engagements with philosophy of science, reflection on examples of important contributions to this discussion, and a discussion of to what extent recent continental feminist work on the topic of science has contributed to the beginning of a new field in continental feminist philosophy of science. The chapter considers current work primarily concerned with physics and calls for future work focused on other scientific fields.
This chapter offers an account of central issues and themes in continental feminist philosophical engagements with ethics. It considers how continental feminist ethics is an extension and deepening of certain threads of critical and constructive work in feminist ethics in general by exploring two overarching themes: the intersection of ethics and politics through the operation of norms and normalization, and the ethical significance of how subjects are formed. Four related ethical concepts—embodiment, vulnerability, relationality, and alterity—characterize the more profound conditions and processes of subject formation. The chapter suggests that, overall, continental feminist ethicists share the insight that embodied existence is ambiguous and contends that the most promising future for continental feminist thinking about ethics lies in critical analysis of actual specific practices.
This chapter offers an account of central issues and themes in feminist philosophical engagements with critical race theory, reflection on examples of important contributions to this discussion, and current and future directions in feminist critical race theory. In particular, it focuses on feminist philosophy’s engagement with intersectionality as the most productive site of the field’s engagement with critical race theory. The chapter discusses the meaning of intersectionality and the importance of understanding the concept not only in terms of the field of critical race theory but also as a philosophical contribution of the Black feminist intellectual tradition. The chapter explores how Black feminist philosophers and other feminist philosophers of color have resisted the move towards operational intersectionality and opened productive, liberatory ways forward for intersectional work within feminist philosophy as a critical practice rooted in the lived experiences of women of color.
Gaile Pohlhaus Jr.
This chapter offers an account of how feminist philosophers have understood the function of ignorance, in terms of epistemic oppression and epistemic resistance, with particular attention to how different forms of ignorance operate in relation to epistemic agency and epistemic autonomy. It analyzes three ways in which ignorance has been conceived in relation to epistemic oppression and resistance: ignorance as absence of knowledge, ignorance as active ignoring, and the use of ignorance as resistance to oppression. In addition, this chapter questions whether the frame of ignorance continues to be helpful for resisting epistemic oppression and considers an alternative frame for tracking the infringements on epistemic agency and autonomy highlighted in the literature on ignorance.
This article explores the debate on the equality of men and women in early modern Europe. It suggests that both scepticism and Cartesianism provided new arguments to establish the equal capabilities and entitlements of women and men. In this debate, traditional metaphysics was seen once again to support prejudices rather than evidence-based arguments. This article describes some of the most prominent feminist works during this period, including those of Anne Thérèse de Lambert, Gabrielle Suchon, François Poullain De La Barre, and Marie De Gournay.
In order to capture some of what is interesting and influential in contemporary North American feminist philosophy, this article pursues two strategies. The first half of the article offers a very brief historical sketch and characterization of a few fields of feminist philosophy. The second half focuses in more detail on a cluster of feminist issues in metaphysics concerning ‘essentialism’ and ‘intersectionality’.
The relation between analytic philosophy of religion and feminist thought has to date been a strained one. To the extent that most analytic philosophers of religion have attended to feminist theory or feminist theology at all, their acknowledgment has generally gone no further than a belated concession to the use of gender-inclusive language. More substantial issues raised by feminist philosophy or theology have in large part been ignored in the standard literature. Although there have been certain notable exceptions to this “rule,” it is undeniable that analytic philosophy of religion remains predominantly “gender blind” in its thinking, and thus, no doubt unsurprisingly, when feminist thinkers have troubled to comment on the discipline, their criticisms have tended to be severe. This article primarily aims to probe the reasons for the mutual incomprehension between the disciplines of analytic philosophy of religion and feminist thought, and to chart—and assess—the feminist criticisms leveled against analytic philosophy of religion for what is claimed to be its covert “masculinist” bias.
This chapter maps out connections between feminist and disability theories to bring into relief the multiple ways that feminist philosophers are partaking in these conversations. It begins with a discussion of what is distinctive about feminist approaches to disability, while recognizing that there is not a single, univocal “feminist philosophy of disability.” It then turns to specific areas of philosophical inquiry in which feminist philosophers address disability, including ontological, epistemological, political, ethical, and bioethical considerations. The final section highlights a number of themes central to work in feminist philosophy and disability: embodiment, identity, intersectionality, and the generative and positive dimensions of disability. The chapter concludes by pointing to more recent directions in feminist philosophy of disability. These include disability aesthetics, explorations of disability in the context of technoscience and ecofeminism, and the problem of ableism in philosophy and the academy more broadly.
This chapter offers an account of the history and central issues in feminist philosophical engagements with early modern philosophy. The chapter describes a “first wave” of feminist scholarship on early modern philosophy, beginning around the 1990s, that involved examining the work of canonical male philosophers from a feminist perspective, as well as a “second wave” that focuses on the early modern women philosophers themselves. Projects involved in this second wave include (1) explaining why and how these works dropped out of view in the first place; (2) finding, editing, translating (when necessary), and publishing neglected or lost writings; (3) contextualizing, analyzing, and critiquing these works; and (4) theorizing about and experimenting with ways to integrate these works into narratives of the history of philosophy. The chapter ends with discussion of an emerging “third wave” of opportunities for publishing, presenting at conferences, and teaching about these women philosophers.
This chapter offers an account of central issues and themes in feminist philosophical work on injustice that is distinctly epistemic. The first part of the chapter focuses on the contributions that classic feminist theorists have made to the conceptualization of issues of epistemic injustice long before such name was available, focusing especially on the writings of feminists of color from the seventeenth century onward (Sojourner Truth, Maria Stewart, Gloria Anzaldúa, Audre Lorde, etc.). The second half of the chapter focuses on the contributions to recent discussions of epistemic injustice by contemporary feminist scholars, especially Lorraine Code, Kristie Dotson, and Miranda Fricker. The chapter highlights the ways in which the feminist paradigms of intersectionality and standpoint theory have shaped analyses of epistemic injustice and epistemic resistance against injustice, elaborating the key notions of epistemic agency, epistemic responsibility and epistemic advocacy.
This chapter offers an account of central issues and themes in feminist philosophical engagements with ancient Greek philosophy. It starts with an overview of the history of feminist engagements with Greek philosophers. The chapter then explores the role of women in the Pythagorean tradition, Plato’s complex treatment of women in the dialogues, Aristotle’s view of the feminine, and the role of women in later Greek philosophical traditions and ends with suggestions about the grounds for further research. Throughout the chapter, there are reflections on examples of important contributions to this scholarship. The chapter also contains discussion of the extent to which feminist work has changed or entered the mainstream of the field. It posits that ancient philosophy offers a resource for understanding the place of women in philosophy and gender discrimination in philosophy and in society.
This article explores how feminism might illuminate philosophy, and indeed vice versa. The aim is not so much to survey the immense continent of feminist philosophical research, as to display, and occasionally instantiate, some small parts of it. In thinking about how feminism has contributed to philosophy, the article considers it worth looking at two rather general ideas: the idea of dualism, and the idea of androcentrism. In thinking about how philosophy has contributed to feminism, it is also worth looking at one rather specific idea: the idea of treating someone as an object.