Monday, September 29, 2008

The First Herculean Task of Feminist Philosophers

This is, if I haven't been clear enough in bits and pieces, a blog that is very friendly to feminist philosophy. I'm a big fan of feminist philosophy, in fact, and think even much feminist philosophy I disagree with to be insightful and interesting. I do think there's a lot of chaff, but I think there's a lot of chaff throughout philosophy, and I think feminist philosophy is an area of philosophy that has a better wheat-to-chaff ratio than most areas. I've always had an interest in feminist philosophy (due to an excellent undergraduate professor, Jeffrey Gauthier), and have found that some of my interests -- e.g., Catharine Trotter Cockburn, or Lady Mary Shepherd -- keep driving me into discussion with feminist philosophers, because they are almost the only people doing good, serious work on the subjects. I don't think I would call myself a feminist in strictu senso (in part because I am way more conservative than most feminists would be comfortable with), but in a context where I could be sure the term were taken in a fairly broad sense, I would. I think there is an immense amount to be learned from feminism, and would fight very forcibly for the claim that feminist philosophy is profoundly important and should not be neglected by anyone seriously interested in philosophy.

But there's no question, I think, that feminist philosophy, despite much excellent work, is highly marginalized in the discipline, such that good work in feminist philosophy is extraordinarily difficult to present and publish, and this is a travesty. I mention this all because a comment by Brian Leiter recently was given a deservedly sarcastic response on this point at Feminist Philosophers. (I highly recommend the latter blog, by the way: there have been some excellent discussions.)

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