Ways to Be Concerned with Gender in Philosophy

Marina Sbisà


In this paper, some (non-exhaustive) ways in which philosophy can tackle gender are presented and examined. Starting from mainly negative critical stances and proceeding towards more positive approaches, the following ways to tackle gender are distinguished: the critique of gender through discourse analysis; the critique of gender essentialism; research on how gender concepts work; reflection upon how gender issues relate to issues of intersubjective recognition. The first three ways, although giving important contributions about how gender is conceived of, do not seem to give firm grounds to the rejection of gender discrimination, the refutation of essentialist beliefs about the genders, and the neutralization of the normative import of gender concepts. As a fourth way, I propose considering gendered subjectivity in the context of the dynamics of intersubjective relations, framing it in a view of intersubjective recognition as a basic process in human life. In this perspective, gender issues constitute a context in which people’s capability and willingness to recognize others as subjects, and specifically human persons, is tested.


critique of gender stereotypes; gender essentialism; gender discrimination; recognition of the other’s subjectivity

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13128/Phe_Mi-24977

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