Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Smith, Patricia. "Feminist Philosophy of Law." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY May 19, 2009.

Feminist philosophy of law refers to a body of scholarship that has grown out of and is closely associated with the feminist reform movement that began in the mid-20th century. It is concerned with analyzing legal structures, with identifying their effects on the material condition of women and girls, and with formulating new structures or reforms that could correct gender injustice, exploitation, or restriction. Thus it is the critique of law as a patriarchal institution. While the immediate goal of feminist jurisprudence has always been institutional analysis and reform, accomplishing it requires conceptual analysis and revision. This is because promoting freedom and equality for women reflects a profound shift in basic assumptions about the nature of women and their proper place in the world: namely, a shift from inequality to equality of the sexes. Given the scope and detail of this change, much feminist legal theory proceeds on two levels: one pragmatic, concrete, and particular, and the other conceptual and ultimately visionary. In this article the interaction of institutional analysis with conceptual revision will be illustrated by reviewing the evolution of the concept of equality in terms of several areas of scholarly development, directly connected to pragmatic feminist goals. . . .

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