The Metaphysics of Gender (Studies in Feminist Philosophy)

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The book relies on good clear examples at important points and will engage a broad readership. Convert currency. Add to Basket. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. The Metaphysics of Gender is a book about gender essentialism: what it is and why it might be true. After distinguishing between essentialism about gender viewed as a kind and essentialism about gender in relation to individuals and their lived experiences, successive chapters introduce the ingredients for a theory of gender essentialism about individuals, called uniessentialism.

Gender uniessentialismclaims that a social individual's gender is uniessential to that individual. For example, the form or essence of an artifact, like a house, is what unifies the materialparts of the house into a new individual over and above a sum of parts. Since an individual's gender is a social role or set of social norms the kind of unity in question is not the unity of material parts, as it is in the artifact example. Instead, the central claim of gender uniessentialism is that an individual's gender provides that individual with a principle of normative unity - a principle that orders and organizes all of that individual's other social roles.

An important ingredientin gender uniessentialism concerns exactly which individuals are at issue - human organisms, persons or social individuals? Given the view of gender as a social role the claim of gender essentialism can only be coherently expressed of social individuals. The Metaphysics of Gender argues that asocial individual's gender is uniessential to it. Seller Inventory AAV More information about this seller Contact this seller.

New Book. Shipped from UK. Established seller since Seller Inventory LQ Book Description Oxford University Press, Delivered from our UK warehouse in 4 to 14 business days. Paperback or Softback. The Metaphysics of Gender. Seller Inventory BBS Seller Inventory BTE Never used!. Seller Inventory Book Description Oxford University Press. Seller Inventory NEW Charlotte Witt.

Publisher: Oxford University Press , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Synopsis About this title The Metaphysics of Gender is a book about gender essentialism: What it is and why it might be true. Speaking very generally, the project of feminist metaphysics asks: Have metaphysical claims about what there is, and what it is like, supported sexism, and if so, how?

Are there particular metaphysical assumptions or patterns of inference that feminists should challenge or endorse? Replies to these questions have offered critiques and reconstructions of concepts for thinking about, e. Feminists have also questioned whether metaphysics is a legitimate form of inquiry at all, raising epistemological questions about, e.

We will focus here on the former set of issues, mentioning methodological and epistemological questions only in passing. There is disagreement about how to interpret both claims, yet to many the former serves as the slogan for the view that gender is socially constructed, and the latter identifies the content of feminine construction as what is opposed to the masculine, the masculine also being what counts as the subject or self.

Three interconnected themes prominent in feminist metaphysics emerge here: i the social construction of gender and other categories , ii the relational nature of the self and other categories , iii the dangers of dualistic thinking. We will conclude by mentioning the challenges feminist metaphysics poses to the content and practice of mainstream metaphysics.

In claiming that one is not born a woman, Beauvoir was not suggesting that one is never born with female body parts; rather, her concern was that possession of female or male body parts, in and of itself, does not imply how one could or should be socially situated.

If it is recognized, as Beauvoir urged, that what women and men are is at least partly a social matter, this opens up the possibility that gender roles could be and so should be made more equitable through social change. Research in history, anthropology, literature, and sociology has chronicled the various mechanisms by which gender and other such categories is enforced, and research in psychology and biology has further loosened the ties between body types and social roles.

However, there are several different de-naturalizing projects that are often mistaken for each other that engage different sorts of metaphysical issues. It is important to distinguish first the construction of ideas and the construction of objects [ 2 ] Hacking 9— On one reading, the claim that an idea or a concept is only possible within and due to a social context is utterly obvious.


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It would seem to be a matter of common sense that concepts are taught to us by our parents through our language; different cultures have different concepts that go along with their different languages ; and concepts evolve over time as a result of historical changes, science, technological advances, etc. After all, social and cultural forces including, possibly, the practices and methods of science may help us develop concepts that are apt or accurate, and beliefs that are true.

We may sometimes forget that what and how we think is affected by social forces because our experiences seem to be caused simply and directly by world itself. However, it does not take much prompting to recall that our culture is largely responsible for the interpretive tools we bring to the world in order to understand it. Concepts help us organize phenomena; different concepts organize it in different ways. It is important, then, to ask: what phenomena are highlighted and what are eclipsed by a particular framework of concepts?

What assumptions provide structure for the framework? For example, our everyday framework for thinking about human beings is structured by the assumptions that there are two and only two sexes, and that every human is either a male or a female. But in fact a significant percentage of humans have a mix of male and female anatomical features.

Book The Metaphysics Of Gender (Studies In Feminist Philosophy)

Intersexed bodies are eclipsed in our everyday framework Fausto-Sterling This should invite us to ask: Why? Further, once we recognize the intersexed, how should we revise our conceptual framework? Should we group bodies into more than two sexes, or are there reasons instead to complicate the definitions of male and female to include everyone in just two sex categories? More generally, on what basis should we decide what categories to use? Fausto-Sterling ; Butler Ch.

In asking these questions it is important to remember that an idea or conceptual framework may be inadequate without being false, e. Anderson Saying that this or that idea is socially constructed may just be an invitation to recall the ordinary view of concepts and note the motivations behind and limitations of our current framework. Every framework will have some limits; the issue is whether the limits eclipse something that, given the legitimate goals of our inquiry, matters.

However, sometimes a social constructionist is making a more controversial claim.

23. Nkiru Nzegwu on Gender in African Tradition

Andrea Westlund points out how. Westlund , —1. Westlund and others have argued that although victims of domestic violence often do suffer from psychological conditions, e.


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These diagnoses, it could be claimed, are merely social constructions in the sense that they are ideas used to interpret and regulate social phenomena, but do not describe anything real. The description of SDPD does not capture a mental disorder of the sort alleged. So in considering the claim that something is socially constructed, we should ask first: Is it an object or an idea? If it is an idea, then we should raise a series of epistemological questions, e. Social constructionists often begin by noticing that an idea is functioning socially to support an unjust institution and then consider how that idea functions within a broader framework of ideas and concepts to structure our experience: does it illegitimately or inappropriately privilege one set of phenomena over another?

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Does it obscure some phenomena completely? Does it create an illusion of certain kinds of things? Considering what is left out of a framework of categories, or what assumptions structure it can also reveal biases of many sorts. In yet further cases, the point is to reveal that classification does not describe anything real at all and, instead, is just a fiction being treated as real. In such cases, substantial work must be done to demonstrate that the idea in question is only a fiction. Whose interests do they serve? There is a sense in which any artifact is a construction; but claiming that scissors or cars are social constructions would not have much point, given how mundane this claim would be.

Social constructionists, on the whole, are arguing for a surprising thesis that they believe challenges our everyday view of things.