This course will examine philosophical aspects of issues raised by recent feminist thought in the areas of methodology, theories of knowledge, reality, science, and value. Some of the issues to be explored include the following: Are the differences that exist between women and men “natural” or are they the result of different social environments? Are the different ways of gaining knowledge influenced by gender? Does language reflect a male viewpoint which serves to reinforce inequalities in power and social relationships? Assuming gender inequalities exist, what accounts for them? What prospects are there for elimination of such inequalities? How important is their elimination? Does science, with its emphasis on control, reflect a male perspective? Are there “female”, as opposed to “male” approaches to scientific inquiry? What about approaches to morality and religion? This course will attempt to understand and assess the fundamental assumptions involved in the various stances taken in response to such questions.
Instruction in this course will cover the following seven areas:
- Method and its Assumptions
- including different portrayals of method, as well as possible tensions between philosophical method and feminist method. The possibility that traditional philosophical method incorporates a male viewpoint will be considered.
- Reality and its Composition
- including questions pertaining to human nature and, specifically, whether any differences that exist between women and men are “natural” or the result of different social environments. Sex and gender will be examined, as well as the issue to what extent gender should be understood as a social construction.
- Knowledge and its Acquisition
- including topics relating to the nature of knowledge and the different ways of knowing. The possibility that some ways of knowing are influenced by gender will be considered.
- Science and its Purposes
- including questions concerning the nature of science and scientific method. The issue whether the scientific paradigm of control and power reflects a male perspective will be considered, as well as the possibility that “female approaches” and “male approaches” to scientific inquiry are different.
- Language and its Influence
- including issues involving the extent to which language shapes our perceptions and understanding of the world. The suggestion that language reflects a male viewpoint, as well as reinforcing inequalities in power and social relationships, will be examined.
- Society and its Nature
- including an examination of the view that one of the most important issues in current social theory is gender equality in work, family, and the political process.
- Morality and its Nature
- including an examination of the proposal that traditional moral theory incorporates a male perspective. The possibility that moral development occurs differently in women and men will be considered. The ramifications of this possibility for moral theory will also be explored.
All seven of these general areas will be covered, but some of them may be emphasized more heavily than the others.
Methods Of Instruction
The course will employ a variety of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives, including some of the following:
A combination of lecture and discussion (possibly including student presentations). Some class sessions may involve formal lectures for the entire time (allowing time for questions), in which case a later class session will allow discussion of the lecture and reading material. Other class sessions may involve a combination of informal lecture and structured discussion.
Means of Assessment
Evaluation will be based upon course objectives and will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. The instructor will provide a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the semester.
Any possible combination of the following which equals 100%:
|Tests, Quizzes, Short Written Assignments
|| 30% – 60%
||Five 10% Tests
|Written Class Presentations, Argument Analyses, Exams
|| 20%– 50%
||Two 20% analyses
|Instructor’s General Evaluation
(may include attendance class participation,
group work, homework, etc.)
| 0% – 20%
(No one evaluation component within each category may exceed 40%)
Successful students will be able to:
- Reason and reflect in a critical way about some of the basic philosophical issues and controversies arising out of feminist thought.
- Reason and reflect philosophically upon philosophical and feminist viewpoints about topics covered.
- Demonstrate the ability to explain the reasoning involved in viewpoints opposed to one another.
- Demonstrate an ability to use philosophical reasoning to make up their own minds about the philosophical issues and controversies pertaining to feminist thought.
- Demonstrate an understanding of specific philosophical theories, concepts, issues and controversies covered in the course.
- Demonstrate the ability to apply philosophical and feminist theory to the resolution of the philosophical issues and controversies concerning feminist thought.
Texts will be updated periodically. A typical example is:
- Garry, Ann & Marilyn Pearsall, (Eds.). (1996). Women, Knowledge and Reality: Explorations in Feminist Philosophy, (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.