The Importance of Realism about Gender Kinds: Lessons from Beauvoir

Analyse & Kritik 45 (2):269-295 (2023)
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Beauvoir’s The Second Sex stands out as a master class in the accommodation of conceptual and inferential practices to real, objective gender kinds. Or so I will argue. To establish this framing, we will first need in hand the kind of scientific epistemology that correctly reconciles epistemic progress and error, particularly as pertains to the unruly social sciences. An important goal of the paper is to develop that epistemological framework and unlock its ontological implications for the domain of gender. As we will see, the real gender kinds that contemporary social scientists successfully identify and track are very much the same kinds to which Beauvoir was coordinating reference in The Second Sex. The correct identification of those kinds endures as a moral and political priority, regardless of one’s other gender-related normative agenda.

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Theodore Bach
Bowling Green State University Firelands, Philosophy


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