PHIL 390

Gender and Philosophy

This course is a study of a number of philosophical issues related to gender. In investigating various philosophical questions the course considers a diversity of perspectives, exploring such contrasts as those between liberal feminism and radical feminism, between gender essentialism and gender pluralism, and between gender standpoint theories and varieties of social constructivism. The course is concerned first with some metaphysical issues concerning gender: What is it to be a woman as opposed to a man? Are these the only two genders? Is there an essence of womanhood or manhood that goes beyond certain physical characteristics? Are woman and man purely natural categories or are they to some extent socially constructed? Second, with epistemological issues that relate to gender differences: Do women see the world differently from men? What kind of implications does this have for scientific and philosophical knowledge? Are there specifically female ways of thinking or reasoning? If so, to what extent are they marginalized? Finally, with ethical issues related to gender: Granted that women have an equal right to flourish as men do, is a woman's flourishing different from a man's? Are there specifically gendered roles for men and women? To what extent are we culturally biased when we think that women in other cultures are oppressed? To what extent does respect for other cultures require that we respect how women are treated within them?