On Dealing with Kant's Sexism and Racism

SGIR Review 2 (2):3-22 (2019)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Kant is famous for his universalist moral theory, which emphasizes human dignity, equality, and autonomy. Yet he also defended sexist and (until late in his life) racist views. In this essay, I address the question of how current readers of Kant should deal with Kant’s sexism and racism. I first provide a brief description of Kant’s views on sexual and racial hierarchies, and of the way they intersect. I then turn to the question of whether we should set aside Kant’s sexism and racism or ‘translate’ his egalitarian principles into inegalitarian ones. I argue for a third position, namely, that we should highlight the tensions that pervade Kant’s theory. In the final section, I argue that the use of inclusive language and female pronouns in recent discussions of Kant’s moral and political philosophy carries significant risks. I end by articulating several preconditions for fruitfully using Kant’s moral principles to criticize sexism and racism.



External links

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

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Kant’s Racism.Lucy Allais - 2016 - Philosophical Papers 45 (1-2):1-36.
Racism and Sexism: An Integrated Study. [REVIEW]Gail M. Presbey - 1990 - Radical Philosophy Review of Books 2 (2):29-32.
Kant's second thoughts on race.Pauline Kleingeld - 2007 - Philosophical Quarterly 57 (229):573–592.
Sexism and Racism: Some Conceptual Differences.Laurence Thomas - 2000 - In Bernard Boxill (ed.), Race and Racism. Oxford University Press.
Racism and Sexism.Richard A. Wasserstrom - 2000 - In Bernard Boxill (ed.), Race and Racism. Oxford University Press.
Sexist language: a modern philosophical analysis.Mary Vetterling-Braggin (ed.) - 1981 - Totowa, N.J.: Littlefield, Adams.
Sports Ethics: An Anthology.Jan Boxill (ed.) - 2002 - [Malden, MA]: Wiley-Blackwell.


Added to PP

20,462 (#113)

6 months
1,706 (#470)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Pauline Kleingeld
University of Groningen

References found in this work

Groundwork for the metaphysics of morals.Immanuel Kant - 1785 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Thomas E. Hill & Arnulf Zweig.
Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals.Immanuel Kant - 1785/2002 - In Practical Philosophy. Cambridge University Press. pp. 37-108.
Objectification.Martha C. Nussbaum - 1995 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 24 (4):249-291.
Kant and Women.Helga Varden - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (4):653-694.

View all 23 references / Add more references