Have a Question? Contact the Humanities Office or an Academic Unit


Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2014/2015

Term: 2

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Elisabeth Gedge

Email: gedge@mcmaster.ca

Office: University Hall 303

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23459


Office Hours: by appointment

Course Objectives:

TA: Chandra Kavanagh

Course Description

In the last few decades feminist philosophy has become mainstream in Anglo-American philosophical thought - recognized as a legitimate area of specialization, incorporated into the curriculum of many academic units, and contributing richly to philosophical inquiry. In this course we will critically examine how feminism within logic, epistemology, metaphysics, politics and law challenges and shapes the direction of philosophy. Questions to be raised include: how might the symbolic representation of women impact philosophical theories of personal identity? of embodiment? How can a transformative politics coexist with a respect for epistemic and social difference? Is the centrality of autonomy in moral theory consistent with a relational account of the genesis of moral understanding?  What is substantive equality, and is the Supreme Court of Canada living up to its commitment to promote it?

Course Objectives

Our objective will be to see how feminism in philosophy highlights and negotiates the central fact of difference, thereby reinforcing philosophy’s transformative and liberatory potential. Through reading and discussion students will strengthen their analytical and critical skills and broaden their knowledge of important currents of contemporary feminist thought.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Miranda Fricker and Jennifer Hornsby (eds) 2000. The Cambridge Companion to Feminism in Philosophy. Cambridge University Press. Available in the bookstore.

Selected articles TBA.

Method of Assessment:

Course Requirements


Essay 1 approximately 1500 words (due February 4)........25%

Essay 2 approximately 1500 words (due March 18)…......30%

Final Examination (as scheduled by the Registrar)............40%

* The participation grade will be based on students’ regular, active and informed presence in the class. Attendance will be taken after the break in each class. The class will be a mix of lecture and discussion. Discussion questions will be posted for each class, and time will be dedicated to small group discussions.

* Specific essay topics will be negotiated in class. Essays must be handed in on time, via Avenue.  They will not be accepted in the Philosophy Department office. Unless approved by me before the due date, late assignments will be penalized at the rate of 5% a day, including weekends. Please keep copies of your essays.

* The purpose of the final exam is to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the course material. Eight essay questions will be handed out in class. Four of these will be on the exam, and students will have to answer two. Questions will demand cumulative knowledge of course material.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

This is a self-reporting tool for undergraduate students to report absences DUE TO MINOR MEDICAL SITUATIONS that last up to 5 days and provides the ability to request accommodation for any missed academic work. Please note, this tool cannot be used during any final examination period. You may submit a maximum of 1 Academic Work Missed request per term. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up with your Instructor immediately (NORMALLY WITHIN TWO WORKING DAYS) regarding the nature of the accommodation. If you are absent for reasons other than medical reasons, for more than 5 days, or exceed 1 request per term, you MUST visit your Associate Dean's Office/Faculty Office). You may be required to provide supporting documentation. This form should be filled out immediately when you are about to return to class after your absence.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Schedule of Readings (page numbers refer to the text)

January 7: Introduction (Fricker and Hornsby) 1-9.                 

 Jan. 14: Feminism in Ancient Philosophy (Lovibund) 10-28

 Jan. 21: .Feminism in Philosophy of Mind (James) 29-48.

              Feminism in Philosophy of Mind (Scheman) 49-67.

 Jan.  28: Feminism in Philosophy of Language (Hornsby) 87-106.

February 4: Feminism in Metaphysics (Haslanger) 107-126.

       Feminism  in Epistemology (Fricker) 146-165.

(1st essay due)

Feb. 11: Feminism in Epistemology (Langton) 127-145.


Mid-Term Recess


Feb. 25: Feminism in Political Philosophy (Bubeck) 185-204.

March 4: Feminism and Psychoanalysis (Richmond) 68-86

March 11: Feminism in Ethics (Friedman) 205-224.

                  Feminism in Ethics (Jaggar) 225-244,

March 18: Feminism in Law (Minow, “Making all the Difference”;

 (second essay due)                 Faraday et al. “ Equality in the SCC”

(posted on Avenue)               

March  25: Feminism in Law (Majury, “Introducing the Women’s Court of Canada” Canadian Journal of Women and the Law 18, 1, 2006;

  (Rackley, “Why Feminist Legal Scholars Should Write Judgments” Canadian Journal of Women and the Law 24, 2, 2012.)

April 1: Feminism in Law (Brodsky, Cox, Day, Stephenson, “Gosselin v Quebec” Canadian Journal of Women and the Law 18, 1, 2006.

April 8: Final class.

Other Course Information:

Changes: Changes may be made to this outline. Every effort will be made to give students sufficient notice of changes.

Students registered with Student Accessibility Services should contact me early in the term to discuss support for their full participation .