“The approach to social life, philosophy, and ethics that commits itself to correcting biases leading to the subordination of women or the disparagement of women’s particular experience and of the voices women bring to the discussion.
Contemporary feminist ethics is sensitive to the gender bias that may be implicit in philosophical theories (for instance, philosophers’ lists of virtues may be typically ‘manly’ or culturally masculine), and in social structures, legal and political procedures, and the general culture.
One controversial claim (made by Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development, 1982) is that women approach practical reasoning from a different perspective than that of men. The difference includes emphasis on community, caring, and bonding with particular individuals, in place of abstract impartiality. It is controversial whether or not this is a real difference, and if so whether it arises from innate differences in male and female psychology, or whether the different values reflect the way men and women have been taught to form different aspirations and ideals.
Feminist epistemology has asked whether different ways of knowing, for instance with different criteria of justification, and different emphases on logic and imagination, characterise male and female attempts to understand the world. Such concerns include awareness of the ‘masculine’ self-image, itself a socially variable and potentially distorting picture of what thought and action should be. A particular target of much feminist epistemology is Kantian or Enlightenment conception of rationality, which is seen as a device for claiming mastery and control, and for refusing to acknowledge differing perspectives and different relations to life and nature.
Although extreme claims have been made, such as that logic is a phallic and patriarchal device for coercing other people, it is still unclear how differences between individual capacities, training, and culturally reinforced aspirations, work together in explaining how people aquire knowledge.
Again there is a spectrum of concern, from the highly theoretical the the relatively practical. In this latter area particular attention is given to the institutional biases that stand in the way of equal opportunities in science and other academic pursuits, or the ideologies that stand in the way of women seeing themselves as leading contributors to various disciplines.
However, to more radical feminists such concerns merely exhibit women wanting for themselves the same power and rights over others that men have claimed, and failing to confront the real problem, which is how to live without such asymmetrical powers and rights.”
“Most generally, any philosophy concerned to emphasise human welfare and dignity, and either optimistic about the powers of human reason, or at least insistent that we have no alternative but to use it as best we can.
More particularly, the movement distinctive of the Renaissance and allied to the renewed study of Greek and Roman literature: a rediscovery of the unity of human beings and nature, and a renewed celebration of the pleasures of life, all supposed lost in the medieval world.
Humanism in this Renaissance sense was quite consistent with religious belief, itself supposed that God had put us here precisely in order to further those things the humanists found important. Later the term tended to become appropriated for anti-religious social and political movements.
Finally, in the late 20th century, humanism is sometimes used as a pejorative term by postmodernist and especially feminist writers, applied to philosophies such as that of Sartre, that rely upon the possibility of the autonomous, self-conscious, rational, single self, and that are supposedly insensitive to the inevitable fragmentary, splintered, historically and socially conditioned nature of personality and motivation.”
“The distinction between sex and gender is attributed to the anthropologist Margaret Mead (Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies, 1935). Sex is the biological category, whereas gender is the culturally shaped expression of sexual difference: the masculine way in which men should behave and the feminine way in which women should behave. It is emphasised by de Beauvoir that in this system woman is the Other: the kind of person whose characteristics are described by contrast with the male norm. It is a central aim of much feminist thought to uncover concealed asymmetries of power in deferences of gender, and to work for a society in which the polarisation of gender is abolished.”
Sources; Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy ISBN 978-0-19-954143-0