May 18, 2024  
College Catalog 2024-2025 
    
College Catalog 2024-2025

WGSS 218 - Philosophy of Race and Gender

Cross-Listed as PHIL 218  
This class addresses conceptual and ethical questions at the foundation of the study of sexism, racism, heterosexism, and transphobia. Many of us believe, for example, that race and gender are both socially constructed. But what exactly is social construction?  Would there be room for races and genders in a perfectly just society, or are races and genders intrinsically oppressive categories that should be eliminated?  Nowadays we are taught to distinguish gender from sex. But what is sex? Is sex socially constructed, like gender, or is it a strictly biological phenomenon?  Population geneticists have recently argued that, surprisingly, race is biological after all. Are their arguments convincing, or flawed?  How can thinking carefully about gender and sex problematize our ordinary understanding of sexual orientation? In our unjust society, when if ever does it make sense to respond to racial injustice with affirmative action? Is sex-selective abortion immoral? If you think it is, can you still be pro-choice? What should we think about affirmative action? We will address these questions, and others, by drawing on recent work at the intersection of philosophy, social science, and biology. Authors to be studied include Elizabeth Anderson, Anthony Appiah, Sally Haslanger, Kate Manne, Debra Satz, Tommie Shelby, Quayshawn Spencer, and Laurence Thomas. Alternate years. (4 Credits)