The Problematic Status of Gender-Neutral Language in the History of Philosophy: The Case of Kant

Philosophical Forum 25:134-150 (1993)
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The increasingly common use of inclusive language (e.g., "he or she") in representing past philosophers' views is often inappropriate. Using Immanuel Kant's work as an example, I compare his use of terms such as "human race" and "human being" with his views on women to show that his use of generic terms does not prove that he includes women. I then discuss three different approaches to this issue, found in recent Kant-literature, and show why each of them is insufficient. I conclude that the tension between gender-neutral and gender-specific views in Kant's work should be made explicit, and I offer several strategies for doing so.

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Pauline Kleingeld
University of Groningen


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