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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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