Her book is a sustained argument for a precise thesis that weaves together issues in feminist theory, metaphysics, moral psychology, ethics, and political philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. Individual essentialism, as I have just explained, comes in at least two varieties. By human organisms I mean individuals who are members of the human species, who realize the human genotype or satisfy whatever other criteria are proposed to define membership in the human species. These texts do some helpful groundwork for seeing the benefits of the connection between feminism and metaphysics.
Abstract In this chapter I distinguish among different theories of gender essentialism and sketch out a taxonomy of gender essentialisms. Since an individual's gender is a social role or set of social norms the kind of unity in question is not the unity of material parts, as it is in the artifact example. But another, more significant, reason for my focus is that individual essentialism seems to express the centrality of gender in our lived experiences. She has also written and spoken about the relationship between feminist philosophy and the traditional philosophical canon, arguing that feminist philosophy's enduring interest in the canon has been a process of historical self-justification that is, justifying why feminist philosophy should exist, and argues further that this is a process nearly identical to that that other emergent disciplines of philosophy undertook as they emerged. It opens with the question: What is gender essentialism? So, even within one culture, there is no possibility of a shared feature or features common to all women or to all men that could determine kind membership. An Introduction to Feminist Philosophy.
In order to continue with the description of unification essentialism and its application to gender, it is useful to contrast it with identity essentialism, and to consider the application of identity essentialism to gender and to race. The basic difference, however, concerns what issue the theories address. In its reality it is the ensemble of social relations. Uniessentialism is not kind essentialism. In The Metaphysics of Gender I argue that our gender provides a principle of normative unity for our lives as social individuals, and our gender is, therefore, uniessential to us. The most comprehensive introduction to topics in feminist metaphysics is. The Metaphysics of Gender is a book about gender essentialism: What it is and why it might be true.
New York: Basic Books, 2000. There are not many works that achieve this. It introduces a novel idea of the social subject and a twist on the idea of essentialism to get a genuinely interesting and provocative conclusion. A question which has often been raised in philosophy is:What are its essential properties?. But if, as I argue below, individual essentialism and kind essentialism are conceptually independent of one another, and respond to different philosophical issues, then I will not need to defend kind essentialism about gender in order to make my case for individual essentialism. Its gender being a man, being a woman is uniessential to the social individual.
Linguistic meanings are conventional for Locke and consist of the collection of ideas associated with a word: water is liquid, clear, refreshing, etc. An important ingredient in gender uniessentialism concerns exactly which individuals are at issue-human organisms, persons, or social individuals? In so doing, feminist investigations have expanded the scope of metaphysics in holding that metaphysical tools can help advance debates on topics outside of traditional metaphysical inquiry e. In contrast, identity essentialism asks what makes this individual the very individual it is. Moreover her view is utterly unique. Because functional properties are normative, it is possible for an individual to have a function that it cannot or does not perform.
This is true of both varieties of individual essentialism. Kind essentialism, in contrast, is a view about what property or properties an individual must have in order to be a member of a given kind. To see that unification and kind essentialism are—in principle—conceptually independent of one another let us consider the example of a biological organism. At any given moment, a social individual occupies multiple roles—professor, parent, etc. Second, the exclusion argument needs to be supplemented by some other theoretical notion, like that of intersectionality, in order to tell against kind essentialism about gender.
Here I am primarily concerned to distinguish uniessentialism from other concepts of essentialism, and to show that it is not vulnerable to standard feminist arguments against gender essentialism. Inessential Woman: Problems of Exclusion in Feminist Thought. Artifacts and biological individuals are also similar because the principle that explains their existence as individuals is a functional essence. Instead, the central claim of gender uniessentialism is that an individual's gender provides that individual with a principle of normative unity - a principle that orders and organizes all of that individual's other social roles. Functional properties are relational rather than intrinsic properties.
And finally, functional properties have a normative dimension because the function specifies what that object ought to do, and not simply what it does. Instead, the central claim of gender uniessentialism is that an individual's gender provides that individual with a principle of normative unity-a principle that orders and organizes all of that individual's other social roles. As far as its function goes, it is just like the house next door. This intuition deserves exploration by feminists even though it is not clear what it means or perhaps because it is not clear what it means. A social role is itself a set of norms that attach to a social position; for example, an individual who is a mother social position ought to care for her children norm or social role. Argues that the relationship between feminism and metaphysics is not anachronistic, contra skeptics.