Sally Haslanger

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Sally Haslanger
Haslanger in 2013
EducationUniversity of California, Berkeley (PhD)
University of Virginia (MA)
Reed College (BA)
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
Notable workResisting Reality: Social Construction and Social Critique (2012)
SpouseStephen Yablo
AwardsGuggenheim Fellowship (2018)
Carus Lecturer (2011)
SWIP Distinguished Woman Philosopher Award (2010)
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolAnalytic philosophy, feminist philosophy, critical theory, social constructionism
InstitutionsMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Main interests
Metaphysics, epistemology, feminist theory, political philosophy, critical race theory
Notable ideas
Social construction of race and gender

Sally Haslanger (/ˈhæslæŋər/) is an American philosopher and the Ford Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[1]

Haslanger earned her Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley in 1985. She has taught at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania and University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.[2] Haslanger is particularly famous for her work on social and political theory, feminism and philosophy of gender and race .[3]


Having graduated from Reed College in 1977 with a BA in philosophy, and earned her Ph.D. in Philosophy in 1985 from the University of California, Berkeley.[2]

Haslanger was selected as the 2011 Carus Lecturer by the American Philosophical Association.[4] The Society for Women in Philosophy named her a 2010 Distinguished Woman Philosopher, citing her as one of the "best analytic feminists" in the United States.[4] Haslanger was the president of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association and was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2015.[5] In 2018, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.[6] She co-edits the online publication Symposia on Gender, Race and Philosophy.[7]

She held the 2015 Spinoza Chair of Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam.[8] In 2023, Sally Haslanger gave the Walter Benjamin lectures hosted by the Humboldt University in Berlin.[9]

She is married to fellow MIT philosopher Stephen Yablo.[10]

Philosophical work[edit]

Haslanger has published in metaphysics, feminist metaphysics, epistemology, feminist theory, ancient philosophy, and social and political philosophy.[3] She writes that much of her work has focused on persistence through change; objectivity and objectification; and Catharine MacKinnon's theory of gender. She has done work on the social construction of categories often considered to be natural kinds, particularly race and gender.[10][11][better source needed] A collection of her major papers on these topics appeared as Resisting Reality: Social Construction and Social Critique (Oxford University Press, 2012) which won the Joseph B. Gittler Award of the American Philosophical Association in 2014. This prize is given for an outstanding scholarly contribution in the field of the philosophy of one or more of the social sciences.[12]

Definition of gender[edit]

One of Haslanger's most influential notions is her analytic definition of 'woman'. Her definition is as follows:

S is a woman iffdf S is systematically subordinated along some dimension (economic, political, legal, social, etc.), and S is "marked" as a target for this treatment by observed or imagined bodily features presumed to be evidence of a female’s biological role in reproduction.[13]

Criticisms have been made on the marginalization of trans women within the definition (Katharine Jenkins),[14] and the possibility of the Queen of England not being considered a 'woman' by the definition (Mari Mikkola [de]).[15]

Published works[edit]

  • Theorizing Feminisms: A Reader (co-edited with Elizabeth Hackett), Oxford University Press, 2005.[16]
  • Adoption Matters: Philosophical and Feminist Essays (co-edited with Charlotte Witt), Cornell University Press, 2005.[17]
  • Persistence: Contemporary Readings (co-edited with Roxanne Marie Kurtz), MIT Press, 2006.[18]
  • Resisting Reality: Social Construction and Social Critique, Oxford University Press, 2012.[19]
  • Critical Theory and Practice, Koninklijke Van Gorcum, 2017.


  1. ^ "MIT philosophy faculty: Sally Haslanger". Retrieved June 11, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "CV" (PDF). Sally Haslanger. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "MIT philosophy faculty: Sally Haslanger".
  4. ^ a b "MIT SHASS: News 2010 – Haslanger receives two major philosophy awards".
  5. ^ "Eight faculty members elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences". MIT News. MIT. Retrieved May 27, 2015.
  6. ^ "Sally Haslanger". John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
  7. ^ "Gender, Race and Philosophy: The Blog". Gender, Race and Philosophy: The Blog. Retrieved June 11, 2017.
  8. ^ Universiteit van Amsterdam. "Spinoza Lecture: Ideology and Materiality – Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen – Universiteit van Amsterdam". Archived from the original on April 2, 2015.
  9. ^ "Walter-Benjamin Lesctures 2023". Evifa. Retrieved June 17, 2023.
  10. ^ a b "Sally Haslanger". Retrieved July 7, 2018.
  11. ^ "Q&A with MIT philosopher Sally Haslanger". MIT News | Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved February 6, 2022.
  12. ^ "Joseph B. Gittler Award – The American Philosophical Association".
  13. ^ Haslanger, Sally (2000). "Gender and Race: (What) Are They? (What) Do We Want Them to Be?". Noûs. 34 (1): 31–55. doi:10.1111/0029-4624.00201.
  14. ^ Jenkins, Katharine (2016). "Amelioration and Inclusion: Gender Identity and the Concept of Woman". Ethics. 126 (2): 394–421. doi:10.1086/683535. ISSN 0014-1704. S2CID 147699916.
  15. ^ Mikkola, Mari (2009). "Gender Concepts and Intuitions". Canadian Journal of Philosophy. 39 (4): 559–583. doi:10.1353/cjp.0.0060. ISSN 0045-5091. JSTOR 27822065. S2CID 143581926.
  16. ^ "Oxford University Press book page". Retrieved June 11, 2017.
  17. ^ "Cornell University Press". Retrieved June 11, 2017.
  18. ^ Haslanger, Sally Anne; Kurtz, Roxanne Marie (June 11, 2017). Persistence: contemporary readings. Bradford Books/MIT Press. OCLC 64427549.
  19. ^ Haslanger, Sally (2012). Resisting Reality: Social Construction and Social Critique. New York: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199892631.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-19-989263-1.

External links[edit]