Date of this Version
Published in The Bloomsbury Companion to Academic Feminism, Pieranna Garavaso, editor (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018), pp 58-79.
Feminist metaphysics is simultaneously feminist theorizing and metaphysics. Part of feminist metaphysics concerns social ontology and considers such questions as, What is the nature of social kinds, such as genders? Feminist metaphysicians also consider whether gendered perspectives influence metaphysical theorizing; for example, have approaches to the nature of the self or free will been conducted from a masculinist perspective, and would a feminist perspective yield different theories? Some feminist metaphysicians develop metaphysical theories with the aim of furthering certain social goals, such as gender equality.
Despite these and other intriguing research projects, feminist metaphysics faces challenges from two flanks: one might argue that "feminist metaphysics" is not metaphysics, or one might argue that it is not feminist. Recently, Elizabeth Barnes (2014) has made the case that, since contemporary accounts of the nature of metaphysics focus primarily on the fundamental, they have the problematic implication that feminist metaphysics is not, properly speaking, metaphysics. However, less emphasis has been paid, of late, to the idea that major strands of feminist thought also problematize feminist metaphysics. I will briefly assess the metaphysician's case against feminist metaphysics in Section 2 of this chapter. Then, in Section 3, I will examine in more detail possible feminist concerns over metaphysics. In Section 4, I sketch a different conception of metaphysics that avoids both mainstream and feminist challenges to feminist metaphysics.