Feminist Philosophy - PL642

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Spring
View Timetable
5 30 (15)







Many people today are reluctant to identify themselves as 'feminist': either because they see feminism as a useful political movement that has essentially served its purposes; or because they view feminism as a 'single-issue', militant ideology that they cannot identify with. This module is intended to give students an opportunity to reflect philosophically on what claims like this could mean: if we live in a post-feminist era, why do women earn, on average, two thirds of what their male counterparts earn? If we live in post-feminist era, why are women still under-represented in many fields (including politics, science and academic philosophy?). If feminism is a 'single-issue' ideology, why is it that feminists have proposed such a variety of solutions to the above problems, and from such a wide range of political standpoints?

The module explores some key debates in contemporary feminist philosophy, with particularly emphasis on its uncomfortable relationship with liberalism. The course draws attention to feminist critiques of key liberal concepts, such as consent, the social contract, autonomy, universal rights, and the private/public distinction. We go on to apply theoretical debates in feminist thought to the following political issues: prostitution, pornography, feminine appearance, multiculturalism, and human rights.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 30


Also available as PL643 (Level 6)

Method of assessment

• Essay 1 (1,500 words) – 30%
• Essay 2 (1,000 words) – 30%
• Essay 3 (2,000 words) – 30%
• Seminar Performance – 10%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Bardo, S. (1993) Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture and the Body, Berkeley: University of California.
Friedman, M. (2003) Autonomy, Gender, and Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Nussbaum, M., (1999). Sex and Social Justice, Oxford: Oxford University Press
Pateman, C. (1988) The Sexual Contract. Stanford: Stanford University Press
Young, I. M. (2011) Justice and the Politics of Difference. Princeton: Princeton University Press

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module, I level students should be able to:
8.1 Outline and show understanding through clear expression of the issues of feminism in relation to liberal politics;
8.2 Outline show and understanding through clear expression of the application of feminist thought to the following areas of legal and political philosophy: contract, multiculturalism, autonomy, and identity;
8.3 Outline and show understanding through clear expression of the application of feminist thought to the following areas of ethics: sexual ethics and the construction of the body;

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