Download Challenging Liberalism: Feminism as Political Critique by Lisa H. Schwartzman PDF

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By Lisa H. Schwartzman

Questions about the relevance and price of varied liberal strategies are on the center of significant debates between feminist philosophers and social theorists. even if many feminists invoke recommendations reminiscent of rights, equality, autonomy, and freedom in arguments for liberation, a few try to keep away from them, noting that they could additionally make stronger and perpetuate oppressive social constructions. In Challenging Liberalism Schwartzman explores the explanations why innovations similar to rights and equality can occasionally toughen oppression. She argues that sure sorts of abstraction and individualism are important to liberal method and that those provide upward push to a couple of difficulties. Drawing at the paintings of feminist ethical, political, and felony theorists, she constructs an strategy that employs those thoughts, whereas viewing them from inside a critique of social family members of strength.

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MacKinnon elucidates how the liberal conception of harm (based on a model of “individuals” whose rights can be violated) may make the harm of pornography impossible to detect: “If pornography is systemic, it may not be isolable from the system in which it exists. This does not mean that no harm exists. ”37 Dworkin’s discussion of pornography exemplifies this problem with the liberal conception of harm. ”39 As I argued earlier, however, Individualism, Oppression, and Liberal Rights Theory 29 the fact that other pervasive social practices and institutions reinforce the harm of pornography does not mean that pornography “causes” no harm.

In contrast, feminists (and others who are concerned with social justice) must also examine the ways that structural hierarchies are established and perpetuated. In overlooking the significance of these structures, liberal theorists may unwittingly import them into their theorizing and fail to achieve the abstraction for which they aim. In this chapter, I critically examine Dworkin’s theory of distributional equality, which he calls “equality of resources,” and the idealized situation 38 A Feminist Critique of Liberalism that he constructs to explain it.

20 In other words, Dworkin claims that the state must be neutral about the different “tastes” and “preferences” that its citizens express and that it must therefore recognize people’s right to pursue these preferences. Thus, in contradiction to Langton’s suggestion, it seems that Dworkin’s reasons for rejecting restrictions on pornography might not be limited to the fact that he does not consider the evidence of women’s subordination. Rather, certain characteristics of liberal thought seem to lend themselves to rejecting the arguments made by more radical theorists, such as MacKinnon.

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