Moral Constraints on Gender Concepts

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 23 (1):39-51 (2020)
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Abstract

Are words like ‘woman’ or ‘man’ sex terms that we use to talk about biological features of individuals? Are they gender terms that we use to talk about non-biological features e.g. social roles? Contextualists answer both questions affirmatively, arguing that these terms concern biological or non-biological features depending on context. I argue that a recent version of contextualism from Jennifer Saul that Esa Diaz-Leon develops doesn't exhibit the right kind of flexibility to capture our theoretical intuitions or moral and political practices concerning our uses of these words. I then float the view that terms like 'woman' or 'man' are polysemous, arguing that it makes better sense of the significance of some forms of criticisms of mainstream gender ideology.

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N. G. Laskowski
California State University, Long Beach

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