Are women adult human females?
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Are women (simply) adult human females? Dictionaries suggest that they are. However, philosophers who have explicitly considered the question invariably answer no. This paper argues that they are wrong. The orthodox view is that the category woman is a social category, like the categories widow and police officer, although exactly what this social category consists in is a matter of considerable disagreement. In any event, orthodoxy has it that woman is definitely not a biological category, like the categories amphibian or adult human female. In the first part, a number of arguments are given for the view that women are adult human females; the second part turns to rebutting the main objections. Finally, a couple of morals are briefly noted, one for activist sloganeering, and one for ameliorative projects that seek to change the meaning of ‘woman’.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Linguistics and Philosophy
Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Byrne, Alex. "Are women adult human females?" Philosophical Studies 177, 22 (January 2020): 3783–3803 © 2020 Springer Nature
Author's final manuscript