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Dembroff, Robin, , . What is Sexual Orientation?
2018, Philosophers’ Imprint 16.
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by: Rory Wilson

Abstract: Ordinary discourse is filled with discussions about ‘sexual orientation’. This discourse might suggest a common understanding of what sexual orientation is. But even a cursory search turns up vastly differing, conflicting, and sometimes ethically troubling characterizations of sexual orientation. The conceptual jumble surrounding sexual orientation suggests that the topic is overripe for philosophical exploration. This paper lays the groundwork for such an exploration. In it, I offer an account of sexual orientation – called ‘Bidimensional Dispositionalism’ – according to which sexual orientation concerns what sex[es] and gender[s] of persons one is disposed to sexually engage, and makes no reference to one’s own sex and gender

Comment: Dembroff provides an interesting alternative to the Kinsey scale as well as Edward Stein’s dispositional account of sexual orientation. Pairs well with Stein’s piece of the same name: ‘What is Sexual Oreintation’ in “The Mismatch of Desire: the science, theory, and ethics of sexual orientation”. Can be used for debate on sexual and desire attraction.

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Jenkins, Katharine, , . Amelioration and Includion: Gender Identity and the Concept of Woman
2016, Ethics 126(2): 394-421.
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by:

Abstract: Feminist analyses of gender concepts must avoid the inclusion problem, the fault of marginalizing or excluding some prima facie women. Sally Haslanger’s ‘ameliorative’ analysis of gender concepts seeks to do so by defining woman by reference to subordination. I argue that Haslanger’s analysis problematically marginalizes trans women, thereby failing to avoid the inclusion problem. I propose an improved ameliorative analysis that ensures the inclusion of trans women. This analysis yields ‘twin’ target concepts of woman, one concerning gender as class and the other concerning gender as identity, both of which I hold to be equally necessary for feminist aims.

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?’

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Mikkola, Mari, , . Feminist Perspectives on Sex and Gender
2016, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by:

Introduction: Feminism is the movement to end women’s oppression. One possible way to understand ‘woman’ in this claim is to take it as a sex term: ‘woman’ picks out human females and being a human female depends on various anatomical features (like genitalia). Historically many feminists have understood ‘woman’ differently: not as a sex term, but as a gender term that depends on social and cultural factors (like social position). In so doing, they distinguished sex (being female or male) from gender (being a woman or a man), although most ordinary language users appear to treat the two interchangeably. More recently this distinction has come under sustained attack and many view it nowadays with (at least some) suspicion. This entry (around 12 000 words in length) outlines and discusses distinctly feminist debates on sex and gender.

Comment: A great first core text for any feminist philosophy, philosophy of sex and gender (or similar) module. Would also be very good to include on a social metaphysics course. Gives a clear and detailed overview of the main rival conceptions of gender, as well as of the relationship between the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’.

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