Feminist metaphysics

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Where metaphysics tries to explain what is the universe and what is like, feminist metaphysics questions how metaphysical answers have supported sexism.[1] Are ideas we have about fundamental subjects like: the self, mind and body, nature, essence, and identity formed with gendered bias? For instance, feminist metaphysics would ask if Cartesian dualism—the concept of humans having immaterial minds separate from our bodies—privileges men or masculinity.[1]

Social construction[edit]

The famous quote “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman,” by Simone de Beauvoir, can be considered feminist metaphysical critique. De Beauvoir does not deny that some people are born with female body parts, but that those body parts need not imply how one is socially situated. Yet for many societies being in possession of those body parts prescribes social roles, norms, and activities, and the differences are said to be necessary, because they are natural. [2]

Since de Beauvoir many feminists have presented the view that social hierarchies are perpetuated by the fallacy that they are metaphysically "natural". In fact the power that comes from naturalising myths about universal categories, has made feminists wary of accepting any category is "natural". And subsequently a response is that any such supposedly "natural" category, should not be a basis for how we organize ourselves socially.[3]


  1. ^ a b Haslanger, Sally and Sveinsdóttir, Ásta Kristjana (2011). "Feminist Metaphysics". In Edward N. Zalta. The Stanfor Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2011 ed.). 
  2. ^ de Beauvoir, Simone (1949). The Second Sex. New York: Vintage Books. pp. Chapter 1. 
  3. ^ Warnke, Georgia (2008). After Identity: Rethinking Race, Sex, and Gender. Cambridge University Press.