The Sceptical Feminist

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The Sceptical Feminist: A Philosophical Enquiry
The Sceptical Feminist, 1980 edition.jpg
Cover of the first edition
AuthorJanet Radcliffe Richards
CountryUnited Kingdom
SeriesPenguin Women's Studies
PublisherRoutledge and Kegan Paul
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardcover and Paperback)
Pages456 (1994 edition)

The Sceptical Feminist: A Philosophical Enquiry (1980; second edition 1994) is a book about feminism by the philosopher Janet Radcliffe Richards.


Richards argues against both opponents of feminism as well as much "common feminist dogma and practice."[1]

Publication history[edit]

The Sceptical Feminist was first published by Routledge and Kegan Paul in 1980. In 1982, it was published in Pelican Books. In 1987, it was published by Harper & Row, Publishers, San Francisco. In 1991, it was reprinted in Penguin Books. In 1994, the book was published with a new introduction and two new appendices.[2]


The Sceptical Feminist has been influential, but it has been criticized for being "too unworldly in its understanding of women's oppression, and insufficiently radical in the remedies it proposes." Susan Mendus writes that Richards provides little discussion of inequalities of power which perpetuate injustice, and accepts that "women's work" is less fulfilling and valuable than work outside the home, commenting, "Richards's feminism is logical rather than ideological, cerebral rather than celebratory."[3] The book was controversial within and outside feminism, in regard to standards of rationality,[4] fashion and style, and Richards' liberal stance.[5]

The philosopher Christina Hoff Sommers expressed agreement with some of Richards' arguments in Who Stole Feminism? (1994).[6]

The Sceptical Feminist received a positive review from the philosopher Antony Flew in The Philosophical Quarterly.[7] The book was also reviewed by Emily Stoper in Women & Politics,[8] and Christa Bausch in Sociology & Social Research.[9]

Flew considered the book excellent and probably the best book on its topic, and its material relevant to questions of ethics in general as well as specifically to feminism. However, he considered one chapter "marred" to some extent by the intrusion of John Rawls's ideas about justice, which in his view Richards had not fully understood, and criticized Richards for not devoting more space to criticizing Marxist feminists.[7]


  1. ^ Richards 1994, p. 21.
  2. ^ Richards 1994, p. 4.
  3. ^ Mendus 2005, p. 781.
  4. ^ Battersby 1991, p. 200.
  5. ^ Whelehan 1995, pp. 39–40.
  6. ^ Sommers 1994, pp. 27, 278.
  7. ^ a b Flew 1981, p. 380.
  8. ^ Stoper 1983, pp. 77–78.
  9. ^ Bausch 1985, pp. 274–275.


  • Battersby, Christine (1991). "Recent work in feminist philosophy". Philosophical Books. 32 (4).
  • Bausch, Christa (1985). "The Sceptical Feminist. A Philosophical Enquiry". Sociology & Social Research. 69 (2).  – via EBSCO's Academic Search Complete (subscription required)
  • Flew, Antony (1981). "The Sceptical Feminist (Book)". The Philosophical Quarterly. 31 (125).  – via EBSCO's Academic Search Complete (subscription required)
  • Stoper, Emily (1983). "The Sceptical Feminist: A Philosophical Enquiry". Women & Politics. 3 (4).  – via EBSCO's Academic Search Complete (subscription required)