PHIL 265: Philosophical Issues of Gender and Sex [Fall 2018]


All of us have individual identities shaped by our sex and gender. But what is sex? What is gender? How do they shape our lives, and how should they? In this class, we will look at the work of philosophers, social scientists, activists, and others who try to determine who we are and how we ought to treat one another. The questions we will explore include:

  • Why would we care about what sex and gender are? We will define oppression and consider how sex and/or gender might be involved.  
  • What are sex and gender? We will attempt to define these concepts and look at varying views of how they affect our lives.
  • Are women and men essentially different? We will look at historical conceptions of the differences between the sexes/genders and discuss what might happen to these conceptions in the future.
  • If there is sex- and/or gender-based oppression, how should we respond to it? We will close by considering three issues in the philosophy of sex and gender: first, whether women make a distinctive contribution to morality; second, whether pornography contributes to the oppression of women; and third, whether women (and men) would benefit from changes to marriage.