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Dembroff, Robin, , Wodak, Daniel. He/She/They/Ze
2018, Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy, 5(14): 371 – 406.
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by: Rory Wilson

Abstract: In this paper, we defend two main claims. The first is a moderate claim: we have a negative duty to not use binary gender-specific pronouns he or she to refer to genderqueer individuals. We defend this with an argument by analogy. It was gravely wrong for Mark Latham to refer to Catherine McGregor, a transgender woman, using the pronoun he; we argue that such cases of misgendering are morally analogous to referring to Angel Haze, who identifies as genderqueer, as he or she. The second is a radical claim: we have a negative duty to not use any gender-specific pronouns to refer to anyone, regardless of their gender identity. We offer three arguments in favor of this claim (which appeal to concerns about inegalitarianism and risk, invasions of privacy, and reinforcing essentialist ideologies). We also show why the radical claim is compatible with the moderate claim. Before concluding, we examine common concerns about incorporating either they or a neologism such as ze as a third-person singular gender-neutral pronoun. These concerns, we argue, do not provide sufficient reason to reject either the moderate or radical claim.

Comment: This text can be used as a companion piece to other texts on the metaphysics of gender or to introduce students to transgender / nonbinary identities. Dembroff and Wodak give a good overview of the importance of pronouns as well as the contemporary pronoun debate between they and ze for those with little to no prior background. This paper is good for debate over its radical claim.

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Langton, Rae, , Jennifer Hornsby. Free Speech and Illocution
1998, Legal Theory 4(1): 21-37.
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by:

Abstract: We defend the view of some feminist writers that the notion of silencing has to be taken seriously in discussions of free speech. We assume that what ought to be meant by ‘speech’, in the context ‘free speech’, is whatever it is that a correct justification of the right to free speech justifies one in protecting. And we argue that what one ought to mean includes illocution, in the sense of J.L. Austin.

Comment: Very useful for an ethics course element on free speech, or for a feminist philosophy course, or indeed a philosophy of language (trap with the latter is that essays might become too ‘ethics’-y). Would definitely be suitable as a core text, with set questions focusing on different elements of the paper to draw out the key arguments. Students could be asked whether they agree with this definition of free speech, and to apply it in different contexts that have recently been in the news.

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Langton, Rae, , . Sexual Solipsism: Philosophical Essays on Pornography and Objectification
2009, Oxford Uuniversity Press.
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by:

Publisher’s note: Rae Langton here draws together her ground-breaking and contentious work on pornography and objectification. She shows how women come to be objectified — made subordinate and treated as things — and she argues for the controversial feminist conclusions that pornography subordinates and silences women, and women have rights against pornography.

Comment: Any of these chapters would be really useful for a feminist philosophy or ethics course, and can be studied in a ‘stand alone’ sense. In particular, the ‘sexual solipsism’ chapter itself contains numerous discussion points. It could be good for different groups of students to each be assigned a different chapter, and then to present to the class as a whole.

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Langton, Rae, , . Speech Acts and Unspeakable Acts
1993, Philosophy and Public Affairs 22(4): 293-330.
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by:

Summary: Considers the idea of construing Pornography as a speech act – what this would mean, and the implications that follow from this. Examines arguments that pornography can i) subordinate and ii) silence women.

Comment: Great paper for a feminist philosophy course – in particular, for a unit on Pornography. It could be good to set seminar questions asking (for example) how, according to Langton, pornography silences women. It could also be good to get students to be clear on Langton’s three different types of speech act, and to give their own examples of these. (The 3 being illocutionary, perlocutionary and locutionary).

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Mikkola, Mari, , . Gender Concepts and Intuitions
2009, Canadian Journal of Philosophy 39(4): 559-583.
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by:

Abstract: The gender concept woman is central to feminism but has proven to be notoriously difficult to define. Some feminist philosophers, most notably Sally Haslanger, have recently argued for revisionary analyses of the concept where it is defined pragmatically for feminist political purposes. I argue against such analyses: pragmatically revising woman may not best serve feminist goals and doing so is unnecessary. Instead, focusing on certain intuitive uses of the term ‘woman’ enables feminist philosophers to make sense of it.

Comment: In my view this paper is a ‘must include’ in any feminist philosophy course with a unit on the metaphysics of gender – or on a social ontology course. Especially useful in conjunction with Haslanger’s ‘Gender and Race: (What) are they? (What) do we want them to be?’ – since it provides some really interesting and discussion-provoking responses to this paper.

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Saul, Jennifer M., , . Politically Significant Terms and Philosophy of Language
2012, In Sharon Crasnow & Anita Superson (eds.), Out from the Shadows: Analytical Feminist Contributions to Traditional Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Thomas Hodgson

Abstract: Philosophers of language have tended to focus on examples that are not politically significant in any way. We spend a lot of time analyzing natural kind terms: We think hard about ‘water’ and ‘pain’ and ‘arthritis.’ But we don’t think much about the far more politically significant kind terms (natural or social – it’s a matter for dispute) like ‘race,’ ‘sex,’ ‘gender,’ ‘woman,’ ‘man,’ ‘gay,’ and ‘straight.’ In this essay, I will try to show, using the example of ‘woman,’ that it’s worth thinking about terms like these, for at least three reasons: (1) There are some interesting puzzles. (2) Politically significant terms matter to people’s lives – and it’s worth spending at least some of our energy thinking about things that matter in this way. (3) Most importantly, interesting methodological issues emerge at the intersection of philosophy of language and politics.

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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