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Feminist Political Philosophy: How to Run the Debates within Public Reason

Keynote poster: Feminist political philosophy: How to run the debates within public reason
Wednesday, March 8, 2023, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

The keynote lecture is part of a one-day workshop on Cosmopolitan Gender Justice on this year’s International Women’s Day and of a series of events in the Women's History Month 2023, jointly organized by the Political, Legal, and Moral Philosophy research group (POLEMO) and the South/South Movement, in cooperation with CEU Community Engagement Office and the Department of Gender Studies at Central European University.


KEYNOTE | “Woman” has become an essentially contested concept: some people believe it is, or should be used as, a sex term, others that it is, or should be used as, a gender term. Proponents of the latter view, according to whom to be a woman means to have a certain gender identity, disagree as to how exactly we should understand “gender identity”. These cleavages are undergirded by metaphysical and ethical disagreements, and therefore may be here to stay. They jeopardise the feminist project – defined as it has always been by reference to “woman” – and, more generally, the ability of feminists and non-feminists alike to discuss practical matters concerning the ways in which certain exclusionary spaces should be organised. I suggest how we can re-think the feminist project without “woman”: as a coalition against certain kinds of gender norms, which I call sui-generis. I also suggest how both feminists and non-feminists can engage in the substantive normative debates that need solutions, without talking about “women”. Instead, we should refer to the particular biological facts (such as hormones, chromosomes, gametes or sexual organs) and/or gender facts (such as gender roles, gender socialisation, internalised gender norms), which are already assumed, by the parties to the debate, to have normative significance. Following this suggestion would yield a complicated and messy normative picture, and would not in itself resolve normative disagreements, but would at least stand the chance to better articulate them and, thus, make progress possible.


BIO | Anca Gheaus is a political philosopher interested in justice and the normative significance of personal relationships. Most of her recent work is about childrearing and gender justice; she has recently published an article on Feminism without “gender identity”, on which the present talk is partly based.


Organizing Team: Hong Do and Clemens Loidl
Visuals by Antonio Salvador M. Alcazar III