PHIL/WMST 275.001 – Moral and Philosophical Issues of Gender in Society

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Instructor: Caleb Harrison. This course meets MTWRF 9:45 – 11:15 a.m. in PH 220.

In everyday discourse, “feminism” seems to pick out a belief, or set of beliefs, that seem rather basic. For example, it is often suggested that the “definition” of feminism is the belief that “men and women are equal”, or that “women ought to have the same rights as men”. However, as we will see in this course, it isn’t obvious exactly what these claims amount to. Furthermore – and perhaps surprisingly – not all those who identify as “feminists” would accept them. This is because there are in fact a number of different, conflicting positions that are advanced as feminist philosophies. The overarching goal of this course is to understand these predominant conceptions of feminism, how they differ from one another, and which – if any – yield plausible moral and political conclusions. Topics that we will explore include: the question of what gender is, the role of justice within the family, the value or disvalue of traditionally feminine virtues and activities, the moral ambiguity of “equality”, the moral status of pornography and sexual objectification, and the relationship that may exist between feminism, sexual orientation, and anti-racism.