Minorities and Philosophy Event (MAP)

Fri, Dec 6, 2013, 6:30 pm
201 Marx

"Aristotle’s Account of the Natural and Moral Imperfections of Women"


Aristotle’s focus in the ethical treatises is on the moral development of men, and in particular, on that of the future (male) citizens of the ideal city. Infamously, Aristotle excludes natural slaves and women from the life of happiness that requires the activity of practical wisdom and moral virtue. In this paper, I turn to Aristotle’s views about the natural character traits and moral development of women and lay out their biological underpinnings. I will argue that, even though Aristotle never states this explicitly, his ethical views about the moral deficiencies of women are causally grounded in and explained by his biological views about the physiological imperfections of women relative to male members of the human species. Women – and female animals in general – are what I call a product of ‘secondary teleology’, which results in them having a colder material nature, and hence in having ‘bad’ natural character traits, in being naturally ruled, and in lacking ‘authority’ in their deliberative capacity.


(NB: Professor Leunissen will present a similar talk at the ancient philosophy conference on Saturday morning, but the MAP talk will be for a broader audience.)


Refreshments will be available in the Department Lounge beginning at 6:00pm