Abstract

This article is about an aspect of feminist moral and political thought that tends to get obscured in central strands of contemporary feminist theory. Its thesis is that, if we are to bring the lives of women into focus in a manner relevant to ethics and politics, we need to take seriously the cognitive power of utterances and inscriptions (as well as of nonverbal modes of communication) that invite us to see things in specific ethical lights. I start by discussing how two prominent strands of feminist theorizing—strands associated, respectively, with poststructuralist thought and Anglo-American moral philosophy—deprive us of resources for doing justice to the relevant aspect of feminist thinking. I argue that we can find resources for a more satisfactory conception in some of Wittgenstein’s later observations about the workings of language. My goal in sounding themes from Wittgenstein’s philosophy is to illuminate challenges of feminist thought in a way that brings out productive connections between such thought and feminist praxis. I close with a remark about the bearing of my argument on a set of ongoing conversations about sources of the conspicuous underrepresentation of women in philosophy today.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-661X
Print ISSN
0028-6087
Pages
pp. 287-308
Launched on MUSE
2015-08-24
Open Access
No
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