Skip to main content

Instructor: Meredith Sheeks. This course meets MWF 9:05 – 9:55 a.m. in PH 265.

Like it or not, gender permeates our world. We find gender in our language, our dress, our expectations, our roles, and our preferences, among other things. But as these examples suggest, gender not only permeates our world—it also plays a leading role in shaping it, as the gendered texture that surrounds us both influences our opinions and guides our behavior.

What are we to make of this? More specifically: What is gender? How do we want gender to infuse and fashion our world? How, if at all, should gender color and mold our world? How, if at all, should gender influence our opinions or guide our actions?

This course serves as an introduction to the ways in which the methods and tools of philosophy may be fruitfully employed to engage with, and carefully respond to, questions and issues concerning the meaning and place of gender in society.

The course will be guided by five practical points of interest, loci in society where gender plays a particularly prominent role and is likely to affect us, either directly or indirectly:

      1. work and care;
      2. reproductive rights;
      3. pornography;
      4. sex work; and
      5. sexual violence and harassment.

We will engage with each practical point of interest critically and thoughtfully. To engage well, we will explore and apply various philosophical theories and concepts, as they become relevant to each practical point of interest. Relevant philosophical concepts to be discussed include intersectionality, sexism, oppression, misogyny, ideology, false consciousness, adaptive preferences, objectification, speech acts, silencing, consent, and epistemic injustice.