In this essay I distinguish four different modes of feministcritique of reason. Discussing the work of authors such as Keller, Irigaray, and Butler, I point out that the issue of masculine connotations has been addressed with regard to different concepts-or at least different aspects-of reason. In view of a tendency to overdraw the objections, I suggest to reformulate the feministcritique of reason. I also argue that a rediscovery of those philosophical concepts of reason that (...) do not restrict this term to instrumental rationality might be useful for this purpose. (shrink)
"Intra-feministCritique: Modes of Disengagement," invited participant on a panel on intrafeminist critique, sponsored by the Society for Women in Philosophy, at the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association Meetings, March 2001.
Neoliberal globalization has deepened the impoverishment and marginalization of many women. This system is maintained by the debt supposedly owed by many poor nations in the global South to a few rich nations in the global North, because the obligation to service the debt traps the people of the South within an economic order that severely disadvantages them. I offer several reasons for thinking that many of these alleged debt obligations are not morally binding, especially on Southern women.
Applying the insights of Donna Haraway (1989, 1991) and Helen Longino (1989, 1990), this paper reviews Sandra Harding's (1986a) tripartite model of feminist critiques of science-empiricist, standpoint, and postmodern-and argues that it is based on misunderstandings of the relationship between scientific inquiry, objectivity, and values. An alternative view of scientific inquiry makes it possible to see feminist scientists as postmodern and postmodern feminists as having standpoints.
This essay aims to show how feminist theoretical and practical perspectives have enriched and deepened debate about moral and social issues generated by the proliferation and commodification of new reproductive techniques. It evaluates alternative feminist appraisals beginning with the first group to organize a collective response to the medicalization of infertility and explores several weaknesses working within their assessment: objectification of infertile women, naturalizing constructions of motherhood, hostility to technology, and an overly simplistic conception of power relations. Next, (...) it shows how subsequent feminists have reframed the issues to overcome these weaknesses, drawing on themes prominent in recent theoretical debates: the need to reclaim women's agency, to revalue mothering, and to reappraise power relations. Lastly, it weighs the prospects for a collaborative politics that is sensitive to the social marginalization of vulnerable women and suggests practical strategies for responding to mounting pressures to procreate at any price. (shrink)
This paper examines dominant arguments advocating for the procreative right to undergo sex selection for social reasons, based on gender preference. I present four of the most recognized and common justifications for sex selection: the argument from natural sex selection, the argument from procreative autonomy, the argument from family balancing, and the argument from children’s well-being. Together these represent the various means by which scholars aim to defend access to sex selection for social reasons as a legitimate procreative choice. In (...) response, I contend that these justifications are flawed and often inconsistent and therefore fail to vindicate the practice. (shrink)
Feminist critiques of science are widely dispersed and often quite inaccessible as a body of literature. We describe briefly some of the influences evident in this literature and identify several key themes which are central to current debates. This is the introduction to a bibliography of general critiques of science, described as the “core literature,” and a selection of feminist critiques of biology. Our objective has been to identify those analyses which raise reflexive (epistemological and methodological) questions about (...) the status of scientific knowledge and practice, both in general terms and in relation to biological research. We have abstracted these listings from a body of material compiled by members of the research project, “Philosophical Feminism: The Critiques of Science,” which covers a range of discipline-specific critiques beyond biology, as well as the more general philosophical critiques which constitute the core of the present bibliography. (shrink)
Anyone who goes beyond procedural questions of a discourse theory of morality and ethics and, in a normative attitude … embarks on a theory of the well-ordered, or even emancipated, society will very quickly run up against the limits of his own historical situation.For some time now, a certain strand of contemporary critical theory has understood its task not as providing a substantive critique of power relations, let alone an alternative normative conception of what social relations might be, but (...) as how to justify critique as such: how to justify those elements which critique owes to its philosophical origins, albeit in a nonfoundationalist manner.1 This focus on—if not obsession with—the theoretical problem of... (shrink)
Biology is seen not merely as a privileged oppressor of women but as a co-victim of masculinist social assumptions. We see feministcritique as one of the normative controls that any scientist must perform whenever analyzing data, and we seek to demonstrate what has happened when this control has not been utilized. Narratives of fertilization and sex determination traditionally have been modeled on the cultural patterns of male/female interaction, leading to gender associations being placed on cells and their (...) components. We also find that when gender biases are controlled, new perceptions of these intracellular and extracellular relationships emerge. (shrink)
Logic is the systematic study of patterns of correct inference. The first treatise on logic is Aristotle's Prior Analytics , written around 350 B.C. and there are remarkable similarities between the way he presented his theory of valid arguments and the way it is still taught today. He analyzes the form of various inferences and then illustrates them with concrete examples. He begins with very simple cases.
This book is a comprehensive, analytical study of the way the mind/body dichotomy has perpetuated social hierarchy on the basis of gender. It challenges the tradition of dualism and argues that the term “rational woman” is not a contradiction in terms. Having investigated the two major dualisms contained in the term “rational woman”, the author develops an argument for a new relational conception of all the terms involved in “rational woman”, emphasizing the relationship of interdependence of reason and emotion, man (...) and woman, rather than placing these terms in hierarchical and polarized opposition. (shrink)
In this article the author suggests that progress in philosophy can be conceived through contemporary French theories that propose a new, polysemantic way of thinking. Postmodern philosophy has tried to renew the meaning of the subject, of the subject's identity, and of language and communication. The author believes that the postmodern, feminist approach to those concepts represents significant progress in philosophy. It is, in fact, exactly in the context of feminism—conceived of not just as a women's sociopolitical or scientific (...) activity but as a broad theoretical approach to many areas—that Western philosophy has acquired its most explicit and adequate meaning. A crucial example here is the new historicophilosophical analysis of the concept of gender. The author appeals to Lipovetsky, Lacan, Derrida, Kristeva, and other thinkers to show how postmodern feminism helps to overcome the binary vision of the contemporary world and the dichotomic composition of earlier philosophical thought. (shrink)
Various levels of feminist criticism of Hegel's account of woman and family, both contentious and sophisticated, are examined. While finding much that is telling and valid in them, the author finds much that is uncomprehended and much that stands to be learned about the issues in question were the texts allowed to speak for themselves.
This article critiques Jack Halberstam's concept of queer failure through a feminist cripistemological lens. Challenging Halberstam's interpretation of Erika Kohut in The Piano Teacher as a symbol of postcolonial angst rather than a figure of psychosocial disability, the article establishes a critical coalition between crip feminist theory and queer-of-color theory to promote a materialist politics and literal-minded reading practice designed to recognize minority subjectivities rather than exploiting them for their metaphorical resonance. In asserting that Erika Kohut is better (...) understood as a woman with borderline personality disorder , and in proposing borderline personality disorder as a critical optic through which to read both The Piano Teacher and The Queer Art of Failure , the article challenges the usual cultural undermining of epistemic authority that comes with the BPD diagnosis. It asserts instead that BPD might be a location of more, rather than less, critical acumen about the negative affects that accompany queer failures, and reflect on what we might call a borderline turn in queer theory. On a broader level, the article joins an emergent conversation in crip theory about the reluctance of queer theory to address disability in meaningful and substantive ways. (shrink)
The article contributes to the debate on new materialism commenced by Sara Ahmed. Taking up Lena Gunnarsson’s argument that erasing distinctions is no effective antidote to dualistic theorising, the article argues that Karen Barad’s theory is problematic on this count. Whereas Barad dilutes the theoretical distinction between mind and matter as well as that between the animate and the inanimate, the contention here is that it is ethically and politically vital to hold on to a notion of subjectivity understood in (...) terms of the capacity for experience, on account of which sentient being is exposed to suffering. This requires accentuating the passive dimension of subjectivity rather than merely the active dimension of matter. This article contests Barad’s reinscription of a masculinist devaluation of passivity on the grounds that only by moving beyond it can we overcome the hierarchical opposition of subject versus object and, in consequence, of mind versus matter. (shrink)
The scholarship on Mary Wollstonecraft is divided concerning her views on women's role in public life, property rights, and distribution of wealth. Her critique of inequality of wealth is undisputed, but is it a complaint only of inequality or does it strike more forcefully at the institution of property? The argument in this article is that Wollstonecraft's feminism is partly defined by a radical critique of property, intertwined with her conception of rights. Dissociating herself from the conceptualization of (...) rights in terms of self-ownership, she casts economic independence—a necessary political criterion for personal freedom—in terms of fair reward for work, not ownership. Her critique of property moves beyond issues of redistribution to a feminist appraisal of a property structure that turns people into either owners or owned, rights-holders or things acquired. The main characters in Wollstonecraft's last novel—Maria, who is rich but has nothing, and Jemima, who steals as a matter of principle—illustrate the commodification of women in a society where even rights are regarded as possessions. (shrink)
Drawing parallels between gender essentialism and cultural essentialism, I point to some common features of essentialist pictures of culture. I argue that cultural essentialism is detrimental to feminist agendas and suggest strategies for its avoidance. Contending that some forms of cultural relativism buy into essentialist notions of culture, I argue that postcolonial feminists need to be cautious about essentialist contrasts between "Western" and "Third World" cultures.
This thesis examines some of the contested meanings of what it is to be a self, person and individual. The law of obligations sets the context for this examination. One of the important aspects of contemporary feminist philosophy has been its move beyond highlighting inconsistencies in political and legal theory, in which theoretical frameworks can be shown to rely upon an ambiguous treatment of women. The feminist theorists whose work is considered use these theoretical weaknesses as a point (...) of departure to propose different conceptual frameworks. I start by analysing contemporary work on the self from within both philosophy of science and feminist metaphysics to draw out common approaches from these diverse positions. These themes are then discussed in the context of the law. I then critically examine the concept of legal personhood in the work of Drucilla Cornell and her proposals for the amendment of tort law. This is juxtaposed with an analysis of the practical operation of tort law by adapting François Ewald's work on risk and insurance to English law. I concentrate on women's ambiguous position with regard to both risk and to the image of the individual that is the subject of Ewald's critique. This is followed by an examination of the changing position of women with regard to 'possessive individualism', 'self-ownership' or 'property in the person' in relation to contract law and social contract theory. There are a number of different social contracts discussed in the thesis: Cornell's reworking of John Rawls and the stories of Thomas Hobbes and of Carole Pateman. The final 'social contract' to be discussed is that of 'new contractualism', the employment of contract as a technique of government. I argue that Pateman's critique of possessive individualism continues to be relevant at a time when the breadwinner/housewife model has broken down. (shrink)
“Look Great Naked!” “Sexy Legs Now!” “Score a Perfect 10 Body!” These invitations appear regularly on the covers of glossy fitness magazines, always beside a photograph of a too-perfect-not-to-be-airbrushed, generally scantily clad, young woman. Are they really invitations or are they imperatives? What should we make of the apparently presumed connection between fitness and sex? These are the questions that drive this article, in which we distinguish between fitness and sport and provide a feminist account of fitness to set (...) the stage for analysis of the conflict between norms of femininity and heteronormativity in sport and in the fitness industry. We examine the medicalization of fitness to show that women’s... (shrink)
This paper concentrates on the method-critique of feminist philosophers and demonstrates that their claim that science is essentially male-biased is unfounded, and itself grounded in their own political agenda. The feminist agenda has shown itself to be detrimental not only to liberty and free speech, but to women.
This study expounds a phenomenological perspective on feministcritique of reason. Following the lead of Nagl-Docekal, a hypothesis is reached by which a possibility is recognized that the feminist argument which is founded on gendering the unity of reason is mistaken. This gendering ultimately results in identifying the traditional manifestations of reason as a structure of oppressive power dynamics which feminist philosophy deems masculine. Although, this investigation admits that some of the main premises of feminist (...) argument are supported by evidence, however, the main contention is that its conclusion is problematic. A phenomenology of reason is proposed, after Edmund Husserl‟s transcendental phenomenology, with the intention of providing support for the validity of hypothesis and offer better prospects for a critique of reason. Furthermore, It is also argued that phenomenology of reason so outlined already incorporates the valid aspects of feministcritique of reason. The methodology of this investigation is comparative-analytic. The purpose of this study is to provide a philosophical foundation for feministcritique of reason which is aimed at unmasking the illicit pretensions of the oppressive dynamics exhibited in the name of reason. (shrink)
This paper deals with two questions. First, if all scientists were perfect Popperians, how much influence could their background values and experiences have? It is argued that background can play a role in problem choice and in the constructing and testing of hypotheses. Second, do the ideals of feminism suggest the need for a new methodology and epistemology for science? In answering this question, Harding's paper in this volume is discussed.
In Setting Limits, Daniel Callahan advances the provocative thesis that age be a limiting factor in decisions to allocate certain kinds of health services to the elderly. However, when one looks at available data, one discovers that there are many more elderly women than there are elderly men, and these older women are poorer, more apt to live alone, and less likely to have informal social and personal supports than their male counterparts. Older women, therefore, will make the heaviest demand (...) on health care resources. If age were to become a limiting factor, as Dr. Callahan suggests it should, the limits that will be set are limits that will affect women more drastically than they affect men. This review essay examines the implications of Callahan's thesis for elderly women. (shrink)
This study expounds a phenomenological perspective on feministcritique of reason. Following the lead of Nagl-Docekal, a hypothesis is reached by which a possibility is recognized that the feminist argument which is founded ongendering the unity of reasonis mistaken.This gendering ultimately results in identifying the traditional manifestations of reason as a structure of oppressive power dynamics which feminist philosophy deems masculine. Although, this investigation admits that some of the main premises of feminist argument are supported (...) by evidence, however, themain contention is that its conclusion is problematic. A phenomenology of reason is proposed, after Edmund Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology,with the intention of providingsupport for the validity of hypothesis and offer betterprospects for a critique of reason. Furthermore,It is also argued that phenomenology of reason so outlined already incorporates the valid aspects of feministcritique of reason. The methodology of this investigation is comparative-analytic.The purpose of this study is to provide a philosophical foundation for feministcritique of reason which is aimed at unmasking the illicit pretensions of the oppressive dynamics exhibited in the name of reason. (shrink)
In this article I discuss the emergence of Female Sexual Dysfunction within American psychiatry and beyond in the postwar period, setting out what I believe to be important and suggestive questions neglected in existing scholarship. Tracing the nomenclature within successive editions of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, I consider the reification of the term ‘FSD’, and the activism and scholarship that the rise of the category has occasioned. I suggest that analysis of FSD benefits from scrutiny of (...) a wider range of sources. I explore the multiplicity of FSD that emerges when one examines this wider range, but I also underscore a reinscribing of anxieties about psychogenic aetiologies. I then argue that what makes the FSD case additionally interesting, over and above other conditions with a contested status, is the historically complex relationship between psychiatry and feminism that is at work in contemporary debates. I suggest that existing literature on FSD has not yet posed some of the most important and salient questions at stake in writing about women’s sexual problems in this period, and can only do this when the relationship between ‘second-wave’ feminism, ‘post-feminism’, psychiatry and psychoanalysis becomes part of the terrain to be analysed, rather than the medium through which analysis is conducted. (shrink)
The book reviews the ways in which feminist issues have been reduced to generational disputes between 1970s and 1990s. Feminism has always looked towards the future when envisaging and enacting social change.
"An eloquent work. Somer Brodribb not only gives us a feministcritique of postmodernism with its masculinist predeterminants in existentialism, its Freudian footholdings and its Sadean values, but in the very form and texture of the critique, she literally creates new discourse in feminist theory. Brodribb has transcended not only postmodernism but its requirement that we speak in its voice even when criticizing it. She creates a language that is at once poetic and powerfully analytical. Her (...) insistent and compelling radical critique refuses essentialism-from both masculinist thinkers and their women followers. She demystifies postmodernism to reveal that it and its antecedents represent yet another mundane version of patriarchal politics. Ultimately Brodribb returns us to feminist theory with the message that we must refuse to be derivative and continue to originate theory and politics from the condition of women under male domination." -Kathleen Barry, author of Female Sexual Slavery An iconoclastic work brilliantly undertaken . . . Nothing Mat(T)ers magnificently shows that postmodernism is the cultural capital of late patriarchy. It is the art of self- display, the conceit of masculine self and the science of reproductive and genetic engineering in an ecstatic Nietzschean cycle of statis." -Andre Michel Nothing Mat(T)ers encapsulates in its title the valuelessness of the current academic fad of postmodernism. Somer Brodribb has written a brave and witty book demolishing the gods and goddesses of postmodernism by deconstructing their method and de-centering their subjects and, in the process, has deconstructed deconstructionism and decentered decentering! This is a long-awaited and much-needed book from a tough- minded, embodied, and unflinching scholar." -Janice Raymond. (shrink)
Medicalization occurs when an aspect of embodied humanity is scrutinized by the medical industry, claimed as pathological, and subsumed under medical intervention. Numerous critiques of medicalization appear in academic literature, often put forth by bioethicists who use a variety of “lenses” to make their case. Feminist critiques of medicalization raise the concerns of the politically disenfranchised, thus seeking to protect women—particularly natal sex women—from medical exploitation. This article will focus on three feminist critiques of medicalization, which offer an (...) alternative narrative of sickness and health. I will first briefly describe the philosophical origins of medicalization. Then, I will present three feminist critiques of medicalization. Liberal feminism, trans feminism, and crip feminism tend to regard Western medicine with a hermeneutics of suspicion and draw out potential harms of medicalization of reproductive sexuality, gender, and disability, respectively. While neither these branches of feminism—nor their critiques—are homogenous, they provide much-needed commentaries on phallocentric medicine. I will conclude the paper by arguing for the continual need for feminist critiques of medicalization, using uterus transplantation as a relevant case study. (shrink)