The Practical, the Political and the Ethical seminar series

The Practical, the Political and the Ethical seminar series
21 May 2021, 4.00pm - 6.00pm
Online seminar.

Are Feminists Nonideal Theorists?

Serene Khader (Brooklyn College and CUNY Graduate Center)

Feminist, and other liberatory, moral and political philosophies are widely characterized as nonideal theories. But if feminism is merely a set of first-order normative commitments, it is unclear why it should be action-guiding any more than, say, the belief that states should be liberal or that it is wrong to treat people as means. I offer a characterization of feminist philosophy that explains why feminist commitments should lead us to produce theory that is, in a broad sense, action-guiding. I argue that feminist ethics takes something I call “oppressive salience idealization” to impede the production of appropriately fact-sensitive moral principles. I pay special attention to the impediments oppressive salience idealization poses for problem selection. Put nontechnically, my view is that we need to know certain things about what the world is like to act morally, and that undue emphasis on the interests and attributes of the dominant prevents us from acquiring this type of knowledge. This is why feminist philosophers have always maintained that normative theorizing is partly about changing what we see.

The Institute of Philosophy hosts a regular workshop series entitled ‘The Practical, the Political, and the Ethical’. The series was created in 2015 by Véronique Munoz-Dardé (UCL) and Hallvard Lillehammer (Birkbeck) in order to discuss work in progress from visiting speakers. This year the series is convened by Kate Vredenburgh (LSE) and Jonathan Gingerich (KCL).  Talks are normally 50 minutes (no pre-circulation of the paper), followed by discussion. All are welcome. 


Institute of Philsophy
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