Mackinnon’s critique of objectivity

Rachel Zuckert*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Catharine MacKinnon describes herself as a radical feminist, one who practices, she writes, “feminism unmodified.” MacKinnon thus takes her theory to be fundamentally, formatively a feminist one, unlike Marxist or liberal feminist theories, which are mere adaptations of preexisting theories to accommodate women’s concerns. But MacKinnon also understands her radical feminism as a political and theoretical attack on the liberal establishment at its roots, in its most fundamental nature, at a deeper level than disagreements within liberalism (or Western political philosophy more generally) right and left. MacKinnon’s objections to liberalism are multiple and complex: she criticizes liberalism, for example, on the grounds that it endorses “individualism, naturalism, voluntarism, idealism, and moralism.” 1 But MacKinnon identifies the core of her objections to liberalism as a “political-methodological” or “political-epistemological” critique of liberal “objectivity.” Her most ambitious political, epistemological, and even metaphysical claim against liberalism is her argument that there is an intrinsic link between “objectivity” as the purportedly neutral but actually male epistemological point of view expressed in or presupposed by liberalism, and “objectification” as the social-sexual process that subordinates women. 2 To the degree to which liberals are committed to objectivity, MacKinnon argues, so too are they inevitably committed to the subordination of women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationA Mind of One's Own
Subtitle of host publicationFeminist Essays on Reason and Objectivity
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9780429971235
ISBN (Print)9780813379371
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

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