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Women in Philosophy: A reading list

To celebrate Women in Philosophy as part of Women’s History Month, we have created a reading list of books, journals, and online resources that explore significant female philosophers and feminist philosophy in general. Recommendations range from general interest books to biographies to advanced reader books and more.

You can visit our Women in Philosophy page for more book recommendations and access to online resources and articles.

Autonomy, Oppression, and Gender, edited by Andrea Veltman and Mark Piper

This is an extraordinary book for any student interested in feminist philosophy and autonomy. It is a collection of essays that examine philosophical issues at the intersection of feminism and autonomy studies. Are autonomy and independence useful goals for women and subordinate persons? Is autonomy possible in contexts of social subordination? Is the pursuit of desires that issue from patriarchal norms consistent with autonomous agency? The contributors answer all these questions and more.

Exploring Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology, Fifth Edition, by Steven M. Cahn 9780190204419

In this latest edition, Steven Cahn dramatically increased the number of readings in the book that were authored or coauthored by top female philosophers. This edition includes essays from the late Philippa Foot, Susan Wolf, Anne Minas, and many more. While most other introductory philosophy anthologies contain fewer than five articles authored by women, this book now contains more than thirty.

Iris Murdoch, Philosopher, by Justin Broackes

This book focuses on the life of the influential female philosopher, Iris Murdoch (1919-1999). She is best known for her novels about good and evil, sexual relationships, morality, and the power of the unconscious. She made a huge impact on the field of moral philosophy with her book The Sovereignty of Good. Iris Murdoch, Philosopher incorporates essays from Murdoch’s proponents and opponents to fully explore her life in philosophy.

Feminism: A Very Short Introduction, by Margaret Walters9780192805102

This very short introduction is ideal for those who don’t have a clear foundation on the concept of feminism. This book gives a historical account of feminism, from the initial movement to the right to vote, the 1960s-70s liberation, and more. This book also challenges the ideas of feminism in non-western societies and what the future holds for feminism.

Simone de Beauvoir: The Making of an Intellectual Woman, by Toril Moi

This book is more than just a biography of Simone de Beauvoir, one of the greatest modern female philosophers. Toril Moi’s book analyzes de Beauvoir’s life, particularly her seminal publication The Second Sex, from a literary, feminist, historical, and social perspective. De Bauvoir’s infamous love letters to Jacques-Laurent Bost and Nelson Algren are also discussed.

Feminist Philosophy and Education,’ from The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Education9780199915729

This chapter examines a feminist approach to education. The chapter starts with a section on women’s oppression and discusses the history of oppression and how it is applied to philosophy and education. The next section focuses on women’s agency and how in philosophy it is usually used in a way to approach social problems like care and value ethics. Critiques and applications of feminism in education is discussed in the final section.

The Concept of a Feminist Bioethics, by Mary C. Rawlinson, The Journal of Medicine & Philosophy, 2001

Rawlinson discusses how feminist bioethics challenge the study of bioethics by addressing how the masculine characteristics are seen as the generic human subject. The author also suggests that women’s experience and women’s bodies might contribute to a better foundation of basic ethical concepts.

Catharine Trotter Cockburn’s Defense of Locke, by Jessica Gordon-Roth, The Monist, 2015

Gordon-Roth discusses Trotter’s treatment of Locke’s metaphysical ideas. Primarily, Gordon-Roth focuses on the objection that Locke has not proved that the soul is immortal and that the idea of an immortal soul leads to a soul that is always in flux.

‘Hannah Arendt’, American National Biography Online

Arendt was a German political theorist and philosopher who lived from 1906-1975. Many of her philosophical ideologies were shaped by her experiences escaping Europe as the Nazi’s took over in Germany. She is best known for her works, The Origins of Totalitarianism, The Human Condition, Men in Dark Times, On Revolution, On Violence, and The Life of the Mind.

What do you recommend? Let us know in the comments below.

Feature Image: Library Sky Birds, Mystical Clouds, by Bonnybbx. CC0 Public Domain via Pixabay.

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