Feminist metaphysics Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminist_metaphysics

Where metaphysics tries to explain what is the universe and what it is like, feminist metaphysics questions how metaphysical answers have supported sexism.[1] Feminist metaphysics overlaps with fields such as the philosophy of mind and philosophy of self.[1] Feminist metaphysicians such as Sally Haslanger,[2] Ásta,[3] and Judith Butler[4] have sought to explain the nature of gender in the interest of advancing feminist goals. Philosophers such as Robin Dembroff[5] and Talia Mae Bettcher[6] have sought to explain the genders of transgender and non-binary people.

Social construction[edit]

Simone de Beauvoir was the first feminist theorist to distinguish sex from gender, as is suggested by her famous line, “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.”[4] In her seminal work The Second Sex, de Beauvoir argues that, although biological features distinguish men and women, these features neither cause nor justify the social conditions which disadvantage women.[4] Since de Beauvoir, many feminists have argued that constructed categories re-enforce social hierarchies because they appear to be natural.[7] Later theorists such as Judith Butler would challenge de Beauvoir's commitment to the pre-social existence of sex, arguing that sex is socially constructed as well as gender.[4] Feminist metaphysics has thus challenged the apparent naturalness of both sex and gender.

Another aim of feminist metaphysics has been to provide a basis for feminist activism by explaining what unites women as a group.[8] These accounts have historically centered on cisgender women, but more recent accounts have sought to include transgender women as well.[9][10][6] Robin Dembroff has introduced a metaphysical account of non-binary genders.[5]


  1. ^ a b Haslanger, Sally; Sveinsdóttir, Ásta Kristjana (2011). "Feminist Metaphysics". In Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2011 ed.). ISSN 1095-5054. OCLC 224325075.
  2. ^ Haslanger, Sally (March 2000). "Gender and Race: (What) Are They? (What) Do We Want Them To Be?". Noûs. 34 (1): 31–55. doi:10.1111/0029-4624.00201. ISSN 0029-4624.
  3. ^ Ásta (2018-08-16), "Categories We Live By", Categories We Live by, Oxford University Press, pp. 127–128, doi:10.1093/oso/9780190256791.003.0008, ISBN 978-0-19-025679-1
  4. ^ a b c d Sveinsdóttir, Ásta Kristjana (2010-11-12), "The Metaphysics of Sex and Gender", Feminist Metaphysics, Springer Netherlands, pp. 47–65, doi:10.1007/978-90-481-3783-1_4, ISBN 978-90-481-3782-4
  5. ^ a b Dembroff, Robin (10 August 2019). "Beyond Binary: Genderqueer as Critical Gender Kind" (PDF). Philosopher's Imprint. S2CID 111381570. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 February 2020.
  6. ^ a b Bettcher, Talia. Power, Nicholas; Halwani, Raja; Soble, Alan (eds.). "Trans Women and the Meaning of "Woman"". The Philosophy of Sex: 233–250.
  7. ^ Warnke, Georgia (2008). After Identity: Rethinking Race, Sex, and Gender. Cambridge, UK & New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-88281-1. OCLC 165408056.
  8. ^ Bach, Theodore (January 2012). "Gender Is a Natural Kind with a Historical Essence". Ethics. 122 (2): 231–272. doi:10.1086/663232. ISSN 0014-1704.
  9. ^ Jenkins, Katharine (January 2016). "Amelioration and Inclusion: Gender Identity and the Concept of Woman". Ethics. 126 (2): 394–421. doi:10.1086/683535. ISSN 0014-1704.
  10. ^ Andler, Matthew Salett (2017-07-01). "Gender Identity and Exclusion: A Reply to Jenkins". Ethics. 127 (4): 883–895. doi:10.1086/691583. ISSN 0014-1704.

Further reading[edit]