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FILA7 Feminist Metaphysics and Epistemology 3 ECTS
Implementation is also a part of open university teaching
Period I Period II Period III Period IV
Language of instruction
Type or level of studies
Intermediate studies
Course unit descriptions in the curriculum
Degree Programme in Philosophy
School of Social Sciences and Humanities

General description

FILA7 Feminist Metaphysics and Epistemology

Mari Mikkola



How might reason and knowledge be gendered? How might taking gender seriously shape the way we understand reality and how reality is constructed? This course examines these and related questions. Our focus will be on four specific sub-themes:

• Gender and the Construction of Reality

• Gender as an Object of Philosophical Examination

• Gender and Knowledge Seeking Practices

• Gender and Being a Knower

We will be reading some contemporary key texts by leading feminist philosophers that deal with these themes. The course focus will be on analytical feminist philosophy, which is a relatively new and novel area of philosophy.

The seminar has both topic specific and general philosophical objectives.

1. Topic specific objectives:

• To give participants an understanding of the central philosophical issues pertaining to feminist metaphysics and epistemology.

• To give participants a good acquaintance with some relevant key texts.

• To improve the participants' grasp of contemporary philosophical methods.

2. General philosophical objectives: The course aims to improve the participants’ skills in:

• Identifying in the literature arguments made and faithfully reconstructing them.

• Evaluating and critically discussing others’ arguments, thereby spotting and diagnosing the strengths/ weaknesses of those arguments.

• Demonstrating and effectively communicating (verbally and in writing) the diagnosed argumentative strengths/ weaknesses.

• Reflecting on how the diagnosed argumentative shortcomings might be revised in order to salvage/ improve the line of argument.

These aims will be achieved through: (a) in-class discussions, (b) careful reading of the materials for each session, (c) via independent work undertaken by the participants.


1. Introduction to the course; Gender and Social Construction (13.9.16, 14-16)

Haslanger, S. (1995) ”Ontology and Social Construction”, in Philosophical Topics 23 (2): 95-125.

Further/ introductory texts:

• “Topics in Feminism”, “Analytic Feminism”, “Feminist Metaphysics” all in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy(http://plato.stanford.edu/)

• Mikkola, M. “Analytic Feminism: A Brief Introduction” in Horvath, J. (ed.) Methods in Analytic Philosophy: A Contemporary Reader (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, forthcoming 2016).

• Witt, Charlotte (2002) ‘Feminist Metaphysics’, in A Mind of One’s Own, L. Antony and C. Witt (Hg.) (Boulder: Westview Press).

2. Gender as an Object of Philosophical Examination (13.9.16, 16-18)

• Haslanger, Sally (2000), ‘Gender and Race: (What) are They? (What) Do We Want Them To Be?’, Noûs, 34: 31-55.

Further/ introductory texts:

• “Feminist Perspectives on Sex and Gender”, in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

• Witt, Charlotte (1995) ‘Anti-Essentialism in Feminist Theory’, Philosophical Topics, 23: 321-344.

• Grillo, Trina (2006) ‘Anti-Essentialism and Intersectionality’, in Theorizing Feminisms, S. Haslanger & E. Hackett (Hg.) (New York: Oxford University Press).

3. Gender and Knowledge Seeking Practices I (14.9.16, 12-14)

• Longino, H. (2002) “Essential Tensions-Phase two: Feminism, Philosophical and Social Studies of Knowledge”, in A Mind of One's Own. Feminist Essays on Reason and Objectivity, L. Antony and C. Witt (eds.), Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2002.

4. Gender and Knowledge Seeking Practices II (14.9.16, 14-16)

• Anderson, E. (1995) “Knowledge, Human Interests, and Objectivity in Feminist Epistemology”, in Philosophical Topics 23 (2): 27-58.

Further/ introductory texts (for sessions 3 & 4):

• “Feminist Social Epistemology” and “Feminist Epistemology and Philosophy of Science”, both in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.


• Lloyd, Elizabeth (1993) ‘Pre-theoretical Assumptions in Evolutionary Explanations of Female Sexuality’, Philosophical Studies 69: 139-53.

• Hartsock, Nancy (1987) ‘The Feminist Standpoint’, in Feminism and Methodology, S. Harding (Hg.) (Bloomington: Indiana University Press).

• Anderson, Elizabeth (2009) ‘Feminist Epistemology: An Interpretation and a Defence’, in Feminist Theory, A. Cudd & R. Andreasen (Hg.) (Malden (MA):Blackwell).

5. Gender and Being a Knower (15.9.16, 12-14)

Fricker, M. (2006) “Powerlessness and Social Interpretation”, Episteme: A Journal of Social Epistemology 3 (1-2): 96-108.

Further/ introductory texts:

• Dotson, Kristie, 2011, “Tracking Epistemic Violence, Tracking Practices of Silencing”, Hypatia 26 (2): 236–257.

• Fricker, M (1999) “Epistemic Oppression and Epistemic Privilege”, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Supplementary vol. 25: 191-210.

6. Feminist Metaphysics and ‘Mainstream’ Metaphysics

(15.9.16, 14-16. Research seminar in philosophy)

Mikkola, M. “Feminist Metaphysics as Non-Ideal Metaphysics” (draft)

Enrolment for University Studies

Please enrol in Moodle. Enrolment key is "gender". You should read the articles (from Moodle) before the course starts.


Mari Mikkola, Teacher responsible


13-Sep-2016 – 15-Sep-2016
Lectures 12 hours
Tue 13-Sep-2016 at 14-18, Päätalo A4
Wed 14-Sep-2016 at 12-16, Päätalo C6
Thu 15-Sep-2016 at 12-14, Päätalo A4
Thu 15-Sep-2016 at 14-16, Pinni B4141, Research seminar in philosophy


Numeric 1-5.

Further information

Please enrol in Moodle. Enrolment key is "gender". You should have read the articles (especially for the first meeting) before the first meeting of the course!