PHILOS 2YY3 Lecture Notes - Feminist Ethics, Nel Noddings, Femininity

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November 6
Feminist Ethics:
- Samantha Brennon Recent work in Feminist Ethics
- Feminist ethics critique the traditional theories, written by privileged men have certain
biases.
o Male experiences as the norm theories were then constructed upon this norm.
Failure to recognize the female perspective/experience
o Issues in private realm devalued
Emphasis put on the public realm, and the division of the public and private
realm is a problem for morality.
Therein the females are relegated to the private realm, with no
theories based on this realm.
o Men as morally mature, females taken as morally immature.
Reasoning as a quality applied to males, not females.
Their ability to act apart from their emotion as a positive indicator
o Masculine characteristics overrated (independence, autonomy, the intellect)
Taken to be the most important characteristics overall, the value emphasis is
put on these associatively ‘male’ quality.
“female” characteristics of interdependence, etc. not included in theories
o ‘male’ ways of reasoning (rights, rules, impartiality) over the ‘female’ way
(relationships, responsibility, particularity)
This legitimizes women’s subordination – rational ability to reason is
important for almost all philosophies, which simultaneously dictating
women’s inability to rationalize
Critique of Utilitarianism:
o Total happiness is important, but this may exclude acting for loved ones in the
requirement for impartiality.
Extreme impartiality does not allow for family to be valued more.
o Relationships are only indirectly relevant.
Utilitarian would reject this criticism; allowance for relationships on the
basis of its contribution of the overall good, and then would still only be
instrumental.
Feminist ethics determine that persons and relationships as intrinsically
valuable,
o Sees persons as ‘bearers of utility’ – people are not valuable in and of themselves.
Criticisms of Kant:
- Denied women full moral status
o Not rational, unable to separate themselves from their emotions.
- Abstract reasoning
- Moral law above personal considerations.
o Nowhere in the universalization of maxims do feelings come into consideration.
- Ignores specific experiences and interests of oppressed groups.
Critique of Aristotle
- Men’s virtues are those required for freedom and political life.
o Women did not develop the same virtues as men
- Women’s virtues are obedience and silence
o In both the private and public sphere.
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Document Summary

Samantha brennon recent work in feminist ethics. Feminist ethics critique the traditional theories, written by privileged men have certain biases. November 6: male experiences as the norm theories were then constructed upon this norm. Emphasis put on the public realm, and the division of the public and private realm is a problem for morality. Therein the females are relegated to the private realm, with no theories based on this realm: men as morally mature, females taken as morally immature. Reasoning as a quality applied to males, not females. Their ability to act apart from their emotion as a positive indicator: masculine characteristics overrated (independence, autonomy, the intellect) Taken to be the most important characteristics overall, the value emphasis is put on these associatively male" quality. Female characteristics of interdependence, etc. not included in theories. Male" ways of reasoning (rights, rules, impartiality) over the female" way (relationships, responsibility, particularity)

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