Political philosophy is the project of offering and evaluating answers to normative questions about politics—about how we as a society should get along and share in all the benefits and costs of living cooperatively. The “feminist” in “feminist political philosophy” can be taken to modify different aspects of that project. Unsurprisingly, then, work in feminist political philosophy is extraordinarily diverse. Notwithstanding some in-fighting about the right way to be a feminist political philosopher, this diversity is part of what equips us to make good progress in developing and refining answers to important political questions. Still, we might wonder what unifies these different traditions and methodologies. Many regard “the personal is political” as the unifying insight of contemporary feminist philosophy. This will be the unifying theme for us as well, as we work to better understand that slogan and explore its implications. We will begin by examining foundational work in contemporary political philosophy on theories of justice, as well as feminist challenges to that work. The tradition of liberalism is of particular interest, because the values it celebrates seem at once empowering and problematic from the perspective of feminist political philosophy. Ideals of liberty, individuality, and free choice can be deployed by feminists to critique unjust institutions, but they also appear to shield a great deal of injustice from censure. On the applied side, then, we’ll consider some “hard cases” for liberal feminist political philosophers: prostitution, pornography, and the gendered division of labor. Along the way, we’ll hear from some more radical voices, and we’ll explore intersections between feminism, social class, and race.
Faculty: Regina Schouten
Time: Tues and Thurs, 10:30 – 11:45am