SOPhiA 2021

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Resisting Relativism: A Realist Defense of Universals in Feminist Metaphysics
(Metaphysics and Ontology, )

A In this paper, I argue for a realist category of woman for feminist metaphysics. Until recently, the field of metaphysics had been largely neglected in the feminist tradition. In the past decade, however, several theorists have stressed the importance of a consistent metaphysical toolkit in order to hold the ontological commitments implicated in new feminist theories accountable. This has opened an inquiry into a fundamental question of how we should categorise feminism's purported subject matter: women. Do women make up a genuine kind? Do women have essential properties that unify them into a single category? Or are women simply a gerrymandered collection of individuals? There have been roughly two camps to answering these questions, namely the realist or anti-realist position. The realist asserts that there is a shared universal property which unifies and grounds the category of woman. The anti-realist maintains that such a property does not exist intrinsically, but is a product of our social and linguistic practices. While the dominant position within feminist philosophy more broadly has been to endorse the anti-realist account that there is no single shared feature or essence that grounds women into a set category, I argue that this approach leads to serious epistemic and metaphysical concerns. I argue that without a mind-independent category of woman, feminism is unable to retain a consistent subject matter, and that a realist ontology is better suited as the metaphysical backdrop of feminism's normative and political agenda. Drawing inspiration from both David Armstrong's theory of "substantival universals" and Sally Haslanger's theory of gender, I propose a realist account of the category "woman" as an immanent, mind-independent feature about the world.

Chair: Nikolai Shurakov
Time: 10:40-11:10, 10 September 2021 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.003
Remark: CHANGE. The talk is cancelled!

Kalin Pak 
(KU Leuven, )



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