Feminist Perspectives in Philosophy by Morwenna Griffiths, Margaret Whitford

By Morwenna Griffiths, Margaret Whitford

"... excellent... particularly insightful are articles on ethics and gender, autonomy and pornography, emotions, and a accountable and democratic epistemology." —Choice

The essays during this publication introduce to American readers the paintings of a bunch of British feminist philosophers, representing either the Continental and the analytic traditions, who argue that philosophy is in pressing want of a feminist perspective.

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3. For those who want the factual arguments, the anthropologist Melvin Konner has an admirable, and extremely sympathetic, summary of them in his book, The Tangled Wing (1982), ch. 6. His conclusion - drawn with real reluctance - is that the case for innately caused behavioural differences is overwhelming. REFERENCES FIRESTONE, Shulamith (1971), The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution (London: Jonathan Cape). KONNER, Melvin (1982), The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit (London: Heinemann).

Both universalise prematurely, hardening and expanding one aspect of the moral situation to cover ground that goes far beyond its relevance. Does this point lose its edge if we think of the differences as socially rather than naturally produced? This too is a strange idea. Of course, it is true that much of the individuality which people show has been the result of their upbringing. Nobody who brings forward biological causes supposes that they replace social causes. They merely supplement them, as the original qualities of food supplement the effects of cooking in accounting for the properties of the finished dish.

Morally speaking, one of the worst aspects of the autonomy-centred Enlightenment attitude has been to denigrate the receptive virtues, to make us so obsessed with giving that we do not know how to receive. As usual, one of these aspects of life does not make much sense without the other. About individual differences, much of what I am saying here may not sound too bad, but many people will want to treat sex differences quite otherwise. Here, the history of the various disputes has been important.

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