Gender and Ethical Theory
A Survey of Internet Resources on Gender and Ethical Theory
See the resources listed
on the Gender and Sexism page
of Ethics Updates; also see:
Theory. University of Iowa Guide to Internet Resources
the Society for Women in Philosophy.
Lawrence M. Hinman, "Gender and Moral Theory"
Professor Carol Gilligan, "Voice and
Relationship: Rethinking the Foundations of Ethics."
University of San Diego, January, 1997. Available in RealVideo
Professor Carol Gilligan, "Ethics Across the Curriculum
Workshop" University of San Diego, January, 1997
Other On-Line Resources
DEBATE: Feminism and Multiculturalism
Boston Review, October/November 1997)
Multiculturalism Bad for Women? - Susan Moller Okin
Culture? - Katha Pollitt
Complacencies - Will Kymlicka
Culture - Bonnie Honig
Do You Trust? - Yael Tamir
Rituals? - Sander Gilman
Norms and Choices - Robert Post
Varied Moral World - Bhikhu Parekh
and Public Life - Elizabeth Frazer
Beyond Gender - Saskia Sassen
Sacred Cow - Homi K. Bhabha
or Destroy? - Joseph Raz
Constrains - Janet Halley
Okin Responds - Susan Okin
Equality vs. Religion: What Should the Law Do? - Cass R. Sunstein
For an excellent overview of feminist ethics, see Rosemary Tong's "Feminist
Ethics" in the Stanford
Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
A Bibliographical Survey of Philosophical Literature
on Gender and Ethical Theory
Biliographical essays are drawn
from Lawrence M. Hinman, Ethics:
A Pluralistic Approach to Moral Theory,
3rd Edition [Wadsworth, 2002] © 2002
A number of journals have are devoted to feminist issues. Among
those that regularly have articles on feminism and ethics are Hypatia, which is of
particular relevance to philosophy, and Signs, which is an interdisciplinary
journal of feminist studies.
Among the earlier works in feminist philosophy, see Genevieve Lloyd, The
Man of Reason. "Male" and "Female" in Western Philosophy
(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984); Joyce Trebilcots "Two Forms
of Androgynism," Journal of Social Philosophy Vol. 8, No. 1 (January, 1977),
pp. 4-8; Joyce Treblicot, ed., Mothering: Essays in Feminist Theory (Totowa, NJ:
Rowman and Allanheld, 1984). More recently, see especially Caroline Whitbeck, "A
Different Reality: Feminist Ontology," Women, Knowledge, and Reality: Explorations
in Feminist Philosophy, edited by Ann Garry and Marilyn Pearsall (Boston: Unwin Hyman,
1989); Sara Ruddick, Maternal Thinking. Toward a Politics of Peace (Boston: Beacon
Press, 1989); : Rita C. Mannings Speaking from the Heart: A Feminist Perspective
on Ethics (Lantham, Mass.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1992); Iris Marion Young, Justice
and the Politics of Difference (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990), which
presents a strong case for affirming, rather than minimizing, social group differences; Living
with Contradictions: Controversies in Feminist Social Ethics, edited by Alison M.
Jaggar. (Boulder : Westview Press, 1994); "Nagging" Questions: Feminist
Ethics in Everyday Life, edited by Dana E. Bushnell (Lantham, Md.: Rowman &
Littlefield, 1995); Feminist Ethics and Social Policy, edited by Patrice DiQuinzio
and Iris Marion Young. (Bloomington : Indiana University Press, 1997), which contains all
the essays in the Hypatia Symposium on Feminist Ethics and Social Policy plus four
For the work of Annette Baier on ethics and women, see especially
her Postures of the Mind (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985); A
Progress of Sentiments: Reflections on Hume's Treatise (Cambridge: Harvard University
Press, 1991); Moral Prejudices (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995),
especially "What Do Women Want in an Ethical Theory?"; and her Carus lectures, The
Commons of the Mind (Chicago: Open Court, 1997).
For an invaluable overview of various theories and positions, see
Rosemarie Tong, Feminine and Feminist Ethics (Belmont, California: Wadsworth
Publishing Company, 1993). Also see Jean Grimshaw, "The Idea of a Female Ethic,"
A Companion to Ethics, edited by Peter Singer (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1991), pp.
491-99; Alison M. Jaggar, "Feminist Ethics: Projects, Problems, Prospects,"
Claudia Cards Feminist Ethics (Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas Press,
1991), 78-104; "Feminist Ethics," Encyclopedia of Ethics, edited by
Lawrence C. Becker and Charlotte B. Becker (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1992), pp.
Several anthologies contain a number of important papers on
feminism and ethics: Eva Feder Kittay and Diana Meyers Women and Moral Theory
(Savage, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1987); Feminism and Political Theory,
edited by Cass R. Sunstein (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990); Claudia
Cards Feminist Ethics (Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas Press, 1991); Explorations
in Feminist Ethics, edited by Eva Browning Cole and Susan Coultrap-McQuin
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992); Ethics: A Feminist Reader, edited by
Elizabeth Frazer, Jennifer Hornsby, and Sabina Lovibond (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992); An
Ethic of Care: Feminist and Interdisciplinary Perspectives, edited by Mary Jeanne
Larrabee (New York : Routledge, 1993); and Virginia Helds anthology, Justice and
Care: Essential Readings in Feminist Ethics (Boulder: Westview Press, 1995). Claudia
Cards anthology also has an excellent bibliography.
Lawrence Kohlbergs major works on moral development are
contained in the two volumes of his Essays in Moral Development (New York: Harper
and Row, 1981 and 1984). Carol Gilligans In a Different Voice (Cambridge:
Harvard University Press) appeared in 1982, and since then has continued to have a
profound impact in a wide range of disciplines, including psychology, religious studies,
philosophy, sociology, communications, and literature. It has become the best selling
paperback that Harvard University Press has ever published, and has been translated into
eleven languages. The 1993 edition has a new introduction. Gilligans most recent
work is to be found in a collection of essays that she co-edited with Janie Victoria Ward
and Jill McLean Taylor, Mapping the Moral Domain (Cambridge: Center for the Study
of Gender, Education and Human Development, 1988); in Lyn Mikel Brown and Carol Gilligan, Meeting
at the Crossroads: Womens Psychology and Girls Development (Cambridge:
Harvard University Press, 1992); and in Between Voice and Silence: Women and Girls,
Race and Relationship, edited by Jill McLean Taylor, Carol Gilligan, and Amy M.
Sullivan (Cambridge, Mass : Harvard University Press, 1995). For the distinction between
feminine and feminist ethics of care, see Gilligans "Hearing the Difference:
Theorizing Connection," Hypatia, Vol. 10, No. 2 (Spring, 1995), pp. 120-27.
Nel Noddings Caring (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984) and,
more recently, her book Evil (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989) have
also had a significant impact in articulating a specifically feminine voice in ethics. My
presentation of Gilligans position is strongly indebted to the (largely unpublished)
work of Michelle Dumont and to a two day workshop on Ethics and Gender conducted by Carol
Gilligan at the University of San Diego, January 27-28, 1997. I owe my familiarity with
the Bem scale to Linda A. M. Perry.
The work of Gilligan and others has stirred up a healthy debate among
philosophers about the implications of her work, and of feminism in general, for ethics.
Several journal exchanges are also of particular relevance here, most of which have
appeared in Ethics: the Kohlberg-Flanagan exchange on "Virtue, Sex, and
Gender" Ethics, Vol. 92, No. 3 (April, 1982), pp. 499-532; Lawrence
Blums "Gilligan and Kohlberg: Implications for Moral Theory" Ethics, Vol.
98, No. 3 (April, 1988), pp. 472-91; and the symposium on "Feminism and Political
Theory," Ethics, Vol. 99, No. 2 (January, 1989). Owen Flanagan's Varieties
of Moral Personality (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991) contains several
excellent chapters (esp. Chapters 9-11) on this issue. Also see Susan J. Hekman, Moral
Voices, Moral Selves: Carol Gilligan and Feminist Moral Theory (University
Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995). Virginia Held's anthology, Justice
and Care: Essential Readings in Feminist Ethics (Boulder: Westview Press, 1995)
contains an excellent selection of very strong papers.
It is worth noting that the voice of caring that Gilligan, Noddings and
others describe is not limited to feminist writers. The work of Martin Buber is
particularly striking in this regard. His I and Thou, translated by Ronald Gregor
Smith (New York: Scribner and Sons, 1960) is an insightful work that is certainly
compatible with the type of framework that Gilligan and others are articulating. Also see Harry
Frankfurt, "The Importance of What We Care About," Synthese, Vol. 53
(November, 1982), pp. 257-90
One of the main issues in regard to gender differences is whether we are
espousing a moral ideal that either combines both masculine and feminine elements or is
gender-neutral. See for a key discussion of two different ways in which the ideal of androgyny
can be understood.