Please join us for a talk by Serene Khader, Brooklyn College and CUNY Graduate Center titled, "Feminist Philosophy as Nonideal Theory," on March 5th from 3:30-5:30PM. This will be a virtual event with a zoom link to follow.
Feminist, and other liberatory, moral and political philosophies are widely characterized as nonideal theories. But if feminism is merely a set of first-order normative commitments, it is unclear why it should be action-guiding any more than, say, the belief that states should be liberal or that it is wrong to treat people as means. I offer a characterization of feminist philosophy that explains why feminist commitments should lead us to produce theory that is, in a broad sense, action-guiding. I argue that feminist ethics takes something I call “oppressive salience idealization” to impede the production of appropriately fact-sensitive moral principles. I pay special attention to the impediments oppressive salience idealization poses for problem selection. Put nontechnically, my view is that we need to know certain things about what the world is like to act morally, and that undue emphasis on the interests and attributes of the dominant prevents us from acquiring this type of knowledge. This is why feminist philosophers have always maintained that normative theorizing is partly about changing what we see.