The Metaphysics of Intersectionality Revisited

Journal of Political Philosophy 30 (2):166-187 (2021)
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‘Intersectionality’ is one of the rare pieces of academic jargon to make it out of the university and into the mainstream. The message is clear and well-known: your feminism had better be intersectional. But what exactly does this mean? This paper is partly an exercise in conceptual clarification, distinguishing at least six distinct types of claim found across the literature on intersectionality, and digging further into the most philosophically complex of these claims—namely the metaphysical and explanatory. It’s also partly a reply to Sara Bernstein, who argued recently that the best interpretation of the metaphysical claim is explanatory priority. We’ll argue that duly clarified, it’s far from obvious that feminism had better be intersectional. At the very least, it had better not be only intersectional.

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Holly Lawford-Smith
University of Melbourne


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