Category Archives: Feminist ethics

Book Review: "churchill & the Jews"

C. Read asked:

Martin Gilbert is a historical writing phenomenon; a historian without peer in many areas; and an intellectual giant in Churchilliana. Again he has produced another valuable niche product in the vast compendium of Churchill related works, this one centred on Churchill’s 70-year relationship with Jews, Zionism and post 1947 Israel. Even if you are not found of Churchill, the book should be read by those who desire to know more about the Middle East, the current Israeli-Arab struggle, and why in modern times, Israel was created as a backdrop to current events; Gilbert has produced a valuable canvass.

I have read all of Gilbert’s works, and pretty much everything there is on Churchill, and this book served up two pleasant surprises. The first, is the not inconsiderable politically incorrect pro-Zionist narrative found in Gilbert’s prose acted out by Churchill’s 70-year affinity for the cause of ‘Jewishness’ and Zionism. When world ‘opinion’ and outrage is so consumed by sympathetic revisionism seen in pro-Arab, pro-Palestinian and extreme tolerance towards all things Muslim, it is heartening to read intelligent reality based commentary which disavows genuflection to the Arab-Islmaic-Mulit-Cult, anti-modern program. The second surprise was to read of Churchill’s constancy in his support of Jews, in spite of political opprobrium over so many decades. He even once described Judaic ethics as, “incomparable the most precious possession of mankind, worth in fact the fruits of all other wisdom and learning put together.” The gutless political wonders of today wouldn’t have the courage or intellectual understanding to utter such a thing. Besides the Arab feminist gay vote would cry and be pouty. It takes a rare man to stand so long on principle even as political and public ‘opinion’ support erodes.

But neither Churchill nor Gilbert are ordinary men. Churchill’s career, as Gilbert highlights, is one intertwined with, and supportive of, ‘Jews’ and Zionism, especially the idea of a Jewish home, where the long persecuted race could find security and safety. Churchill always rejected, ‘the anti-semitic lines of prejudice’ both in and outside Britain, feeling that with applied intelligence and patience, Jews and Arabs could peaceably prosper in a flourishing and modern Palestine. Unfortunately the Arabs then as now, show little inclination to live in the modern world.

From 1904 to 1908 Churchill, the 30 to 34 year old politician represented a minority Jewish constituency in Manchester. Jewish concerns were thus imprinted upon Churchill’s world view early in his career. As Gilbert elaborates, Churchill during his lifetime had many Jewish friends, publishers, researchers, political allies, and even financiers. (Churchill almost went bankrupt in the 1930’s, saved by the intervention of some notable Jewish families). As a Cabinet Minister in 1921 and 1922, charged with determining the future status of a Jewish home in Palestine; through World War Two and the holocaust, as Prime Minister from 1951-1956; and as a historian puzzling over the relationship between Jews and Arabs; Churchill was profoundly associated with Jewish concerns and the complexity of Arab Jew interaction in Palestine.

Though fond of Jews (and too fond according to one critic), Churchill was at times evisceratingly critical of Jewish extremism or inflexibility. Not surprisingly Churchill knew of the depth of Jewish leadership in the Russian bolshevist movement (all top Bolsheviks, including Lenin were indeed at least partially Jewish), calling upon Jewish leaders to denounce bolshevism and instead elevate true Jewish ethics instead. Likewise during the 1930s and 1940s, when fringe Jewish terrorist groups were attacking and murdering British Subjects and innocents in the Palestine mandate, Churchill adjured Jewish leaders to strike down such evil elements lest a Jewish home became a political and social impossibility.

In short, if you analyze his career and statements, Churchill was not Hitler’s caricature of a drunken, Jewish knave, promoting capitalism as the smiling, materialistic face of neo-imperialist slavery. He was instead a politician who believed in the Judeo-Christian tradition and who had the power to help realize Britain’s 1917 Balfour Declaration guaranteeing Jews a Palestinian home (done to gain support of Jews in Russia and America to prosecute the war against Wilhelmina Germany). If you look at the historical record, the Jews owe Israel’s very existence, at least in part, to Churchill’s exertions.

In 1922 Churchill as a Cabinet Minister responsible for Palestine, produced the Churchill White paper; which laid the foundation of an Israeli State. Churchill’s White Paper, which addressed the partition of Britain’s mandate between Arabs and Jews (Palestinians were a separate ‘people’ created by the U.N. and Arabs circa 1967), was decidedly pro-Zionist, allocating perhaps 12% of the mandate to the Jews and 88%, including present day Jordan, some of Syria, and current ‘Palestinian’ holdings to the Arabs. In terms of geographical coverage the Arabs won in terms of legitimacy, the Jews had their necessary and powerful, political support. Churchill’s plan was to increase civilizational development for 1000 years. As Churchill commented, the Arabs had done nothing with the land. As Jews increased from 80,000 people in 1922, economic development would dictate the levels of Jewish emigration. It was Churchill’s hope that the 500,000 Arab residents in 1922 would not feel overwhelmed by a rising Jewish population.

As it turned out he need not have worried. By 1948 the Arab population in the British Mandate had tripled from 1922 levels to 1.5 million. The Jewish population had surged to about 800,000. Upon declaring statehood in 1948, post-British withdrawal, the tiny Jewish State was attacked by 5 Arab States with 50 times the population. Israel survived of course, humiliating the Arab armies. (It is a cautionary tale. However, for those who chatter about precipitate withdrawal from Iraq or Afghanistan, those Western allied governments will simply collapse if the West exits).

Gilbert’s book is in many ways required reading for our days and times. There is nothing wrong as Churchill’s example attests to, of having constancy and moral purpose in politics. Defending the Jews- a vital part of Western civilization- is noble and just. Affirming blame to Arab-Islamic intolerance when analyzing Middle-Eastern affairs is necessary and justified. Learning from Churchill, from history, and from cultural precedents is also to be embraced.

Tips for Healthier Living

Bella Mclaine asked:

Cosmetic Products Off Talks

During the 20th century, the popularity of cosmetics increased rapidly. Especially in the United States, cosmetics are used by girls at an increasingly young age. Many companies have catered to this expanding market by introducing more flavored lipsticks and glosses, cosmetics packaged in glittery, sparkly packaging and marketing and advertising using young models. The social consequences of younger and younger beautification have had much attention in the media over the last few years.

Criticism of cosmetics has come from a variety of sources, including feminists, animal rights activists, authors and public interest groups. There is a growing awareness and preference for cosmetics that are without any toxic ingredients, especially those derived from petroleum, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), and parabens.

Numerous published reports have raised concern over the safety of a few surfactants. SLS causes a number of skin issues including dermatitis. Parabens can cause skin irritation and contact dermatitis in individuals with paraben allergies, a small percentage of the general population. Animal experiments have shown that parabens have a weak estrogenic activity, acting as xenoestrogens.

Prolonged use of makeup has also been linked to thinning eyelashes. Synthetic fragrances are widely used in consumer products. In general terms it can be said that the fad of looking good and adorable is seen more and so they forget to take useful health beauty care tips that can serve a lot to take some precautionary measures for their own. Studies concluded from patch testing show synthetic fragrances are made of many ingredients which cause allergic reactions.

Setting as Careers

An account executive is responsible for visiting all counter sales and doors. They explain new products and “gifts with purchase” (free items given out upon purchase of a certain cosmetics item that costs more than a set amount).

A cosmetician is a professional who provides facial and body treatments for clients. The term cosmetologist is sometimes used interchangeably with this term, but most commonly refers to a certified professional. A freelance makeup artist provides clients with beauty advice and cosmetics assistance — usually paid by the cosmetic company by the hour.

Professionals in cosmetics marketing careers manage research focus groups, promote the desired brand image, and provide other marketing services (sales forecasting, allocation to different retailers, etc.). Those involved in cosmetics product development design, create and refine cosmetics products. Some positions that fall under this category include chemists, quality assurance and packaging people.

The Society of Cosmetic Chemists (SCC) is a learned society (professional association) based in the United States that supports scientific inquiry in the field of cosmetic science.

The Society website talks about the Society’s mission:

“Dedicated to the advancement of cosmetic science, the Society strives to increase and disseminate scientific information through meetings and publications. By promoting research in cosmetic science and industry, and by setting high ethical, professional and educational standards, we reach our goal of improving the qualifications of cosmetic scientists. Our mission is to further the interests and recognition of cosmetic scientists while maintaining the confidence of the public in the cosmetic and toiletries industry.”

Thus, the intimating beauty & health lies in the hands of people for their selfish motives only to décor the body along with utmost care of your health. Don’t forget advantage of one may give disadvantage in the other way round and you may not be able to bear it.


Punkerslut asked:


By Punkerslut

I must say that the practice of prostitution has been given a very bad name. Yet, I see it everywhere. Men who pay for sex are simply either pre-occupied or too lazy. If they wanted to save some cash, they could simply spend 15 minutes everyday grooming themselves, and then hitting up the clubs every night. Sure sure, they would be spending about $20 to $40 on drinks and maybe three or four hours of hitting on a girl, but they would still get sex. And, honestly, what is the difference between simply paying a woman to have sex, and looking nice and buying them drinks to have sex? I can extend this analogy even further. What if someone decides, in fact, to spend several hours every day or week in courtship, for weeks or months, until marriage? In such a case, they would have achieved the required social steps for sex. In that case, they are still just giving in a certain amount of time and effort to satisfy their sexual libido. If a man spends hours laboring at his profession, is paid, and then spends this money on a prostitute, how does this differ from a man spending hours hitting on a woman and then her finally accepting the sexual proposal? I cannot find one difference in any of these circumstances that would make prostitution immoral or unethical.

Yes, there is the difference that in one of these cases, money is specifically offered for the action of sex. I am not denying this at all. The only thing I am denying is that the exchange of money for sex matters. Whether sex was paid for or whether it was obtained through that clever game of sexual selection and competition, it is all irrelevant. Just because sex was paid for in one instance, I do not think that it ought to be outlawed or even condemned. As humane and rational men, the source of our ethical imperatives comes from one idea. It is the idea that our actions improve, better, and aid the lives of those around us. This can be done in a number of ways. If our actions can be judged as increasing the pleasure of others, and decreasing the misery of others, then it ought to be said that our actions are ethical, that they have done some good, that they have decreased misery and increased happines. With this ethical ideal understood, there can be no argument against prostitution. The system of buying and selling sex has been and will continue to be a means of mutual satisfaction: the cash for the prostitute, and the pleasure for the customer.

In all honesty, I believe the greatest amount of opposition to prostitution that comes today is simply an animosity against the sex act in general. Those same individuals who oppose prostitution probably support the law of statutory rape. They believed that if a consenting 18 year old had sex with a consenting 17 year old, that it was a tragic act, that it permanently scarred the 17 year old and that the heart of the 18 year old was stone cold. The same people who oppose legalizing prostitution also oppose distribution of contraceptive devices, arguing that “if sex is safe, then more sex will be committed.” These people would rather that disease infest and destroy the bodies of young people than allow them to take happiness in the warmth of each others’ bodies. The puritanical spirit is still among our society, unfortunately, and it is the people who are paying for it. Venereal disease and unwanted pregnancy effects all ages, all races. By doing all that we can to eliminate these social ills, we are elevating the spirit of humanity, the creed of kinship, the bond that may be called our experience together.

Among the primary arguments of those who oppose prostitution, there is the purity argument. It is not a question of the disease spread by illegal prostitutes, or of the criminal element associated with it, but rather, it is a matter of purity. By allowing people to exchange sex for cash, we are allowing people to engage in impure acts, which are destructive towards themselves. My response to this is simple: irrelevant. It is irrelevant whether an action is judged to be pure or impure. Personally, I believe that allowing children to live in poverty, allowing armies of unemployed to starve, and restricting the flow of information is impure. It is impure to build palaces when there are still men and women without homes. If it was impure to feed the poor and homeless, should we make it illegal? If it was pure to murder and rape, should we make it legal? Of course not. The terms “pure” and “impure” are meaningless. If conservatives are simply going to apply it without any purpose, then it is with complete disregard for morality and the goodness of mankind.

A real question that I would like to ask these conservative thinkers is this: by what standard can you define anything as pure or impure? What is the scale? And, once this is decided, how is it relevant to anything? If it happens that murder is impure, that holds no relevance over whether it is legal or illegal. Murder is illegal because it causes suffering and misery, and so is the same reason why rape or assault are illegal. It it happens that helping the innocent escape an evil fate is pure, it has nothing to do with the law. It is legal to help innocent people because it eliminates misery and suffering. So, when we decide to judge something like prostitution, and if it weighs out to being impure, why should this even aid in our decision? After all, prostitution, much like the sex act alone, creates happiness and pleasure for many. It is a mutually benefiting relationship. That is why it must be legalized.

There are still some other considerations to think about. For example, what about those prostitutes who are not willingly prostitutes? What of those prostitutes who engage in the practice for the sake of obtaining food and not for the sake of choosing it as a profession? Some will argue, very rightly too, that prostitution allows people to sell their bodies, even though the practice scars their mind. I admit, this is very true. Yet, it cannot be denied that every profession contains people who are scarred by their labor. Consider the Mexican laborers, whose rights are violated daily as they are forced to work 14 hours a day. Consider the American laborer who lives in a closet and works 10 hours a day so he can have nothing. The decades and decades of their lives spent living in such poverty and misery, inflicted on the lives of hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people. There is no doubt that professions all over the world have allowed for so much misery, so much pain, so much cruelty. They exist solely because of the exploitive, oppressive relationships that are allowed to flourish in society. The problem is not prostitution. The problem is the poverty of a Capitalist economy. If the scarring of prostitution, or any other profession, is to be eliminated, we need Socialism on our law books. It is the only savior of the proletariat.

Before ending, there is one other matter that ought to be discussed. It is the matter of the rights of women, of Feminism, of sexism versus sexuality. Feminists will argue that prostitution will only make women seem more like objects and less like individuals with interests and emotions. First, there is a double standard. There are gigolos, or male prostitutes, and one might inquire how this impacts the image that women have of men. Some might agree, and believe that both institutions should be abolished. Yet, such an action would be too hasty and too reckless. Sex, whether paid for or not, is usually about satisfying an urge. A Feminist might as well say that men and women shouldn’t have sex with each other at all, to prevent them from having sexual thoughts about each other, or from developing ideas about the other gender. No doubt, everyone will disagree with such
a social plan. Eliminating sex will perhaps cause the greatest misery in society. And, the fact that nobody wants to eliminate sex, is fair and good evidence that the spirit of Puritanism is slowly but surely dying. Whether or not prostitution will put a prejudice in the mind of men is not something that can be battled by prohibiting prostitution, but only by a real and honest education given to all people, so that they can appreciate the relationships they have with each other.

If society were to accept prostitution as a valid form of pleasure, entertainment, and employment, then the ills commonly associated with it would become nonexistent. The disease that is spread through unprotected sex would become extremely limited and restricted. With regulatory law, these sex workers would be required to have protected sex. And, with safe sex, those who purchased the services of these employees would be safe. There is no doubt that prostitution should be legalized. For some time, casual sex without commitment was a matter of law. It was illegal. But today, we are smart enough to understand and believe that what two consenting people do behind closed doors is their business and their business only. It is not a crime to make awkward artwork or read obscure literature, but for a long time it was illegal, punished with death and torture. Yet as time has worn on, we have become more humane, more rational, more passionate about the rights of the people and the liberties of the individual. It is no longer a crime to read banned books, it is no longer a crime to revel in obscure artworks, it is no longer a crime to have consensual sex. Yet… It is still a matter of law when it comes to exchanging sex for cash. As the spirit of progress is guided by the flame of reason, we must change these laws.

For Life, Punkerslu

Together We Sing: Feminist Consciousness in Haroti Folklores

Amitabh Vikram Dwivedi asked:

Poetry and metaphors are everywhere. Even in folklores and myths of which origin is not dated because they find their place in spoken form and they passed orally from one generation to another. Folklores are natural songs that represent human life without poetic ostentation. Haroti folklores are similar to any other folklores (found in the world) in a manner that they also represent Haroti life and culture in their forms.


Haroti is a Rajasthani language. This language is named after its region. The Haroti region is situated in western Rajasthan in north-west India. When we talk about feminist consciousness in Haroti folklores we deal with voices of women which come out through the medium of folklores. Far away from the philosophy of  and Cixous, Kristeva, and the complex infantile philosophy of Arundhati Rai (where the twins unconsciously put one realistic question that fortunately realized by Rai’s conscious effort whether twins can have sex with each other. Haroti folklores try to raise more traditional grass-rooted voice of women that  not only sounds sensuous but also free from the borrowed- globalize obscenity of the essentialists where they forward their biological question like “How can vagina be vulgar?” (Vagina Monologues- Mahabooba) or “Life is always being sexed” or “Woman touches herself………her sex is composed of two lips” (The sex which is not one-Irigaray). This obscenity may be a form of reality to understand feminist consciousness but the Haroti folklores raise more fundamental question of life, death, living condition, marriage, pregnancy, child birth etc.


In these folklores we find two types of folkloric female representation. One represents her positive side and the second represents her negative side. The positive side shows female as a subtle home-maker, a good wife, a wife equals to goddess Laxmi(goddess of prosperity), and a perfect beloved; and on the other hand she is represented as a coarse lady, cynic, a bad tempered wife, and an unfaithful beloved but interestingly though these natural forms of representation are sung by women. She praises herself and her feminine side or she complaint about her other self that is; the male who is rather other than the previous one but not divisible from her consciousness (the prevalent concept in Hindu mythology that presents male and female as an embodiment of the same body).


She sings her folklores because she knows that this is the way to express her suppressed condition. And her voice not only comes out for the suppression but it also represents other modes like mother’s longing for her newly married daughter, a mother’s happiness for her newly born baby, mother mourns for her child’s death, or some beloved is waiting for her over etc. So there is a universal form in all these women traits. That’s why it is quite incongruous to say that Haroti women have developed a medium of their significations out of their consciousness because language is natural as any other scientific law and theory. They reject the sex markers that is to say their biological organs which discriminates them with men and put directly their problem. As in folklores, she says that her husband’s desire for son is not logical when her husband says dear give birth to a male child who will give glory to our family and I will praise you in front of everyone.


Tha ne dagaji pir khday

Jo ghar jnmi ji davadi ji

Dadaji ko vsa badaya

Badhat sundar mhe kara ji

Tha ne sutha ka ladu badhaya


This song is song by the mother-in-law and the other elderly women of the house. Here, the main problem with her conscious effort to put her voice through folklore is that she thinks that the medium through which she comes forward; she controls the patriarchal thinking. But her language is fabricated around the other women who are facing the same problem as once she had faced. Her daughter-in-law is still in the same problem as once she was.


In a folk lore the friends of a girl, who is going to get married, sing on her behalf. The song goes like this – brother, leave my doli (a place where bride sits) and leave to your place. You have bread for servants, cousins and other people only I am the burden.


Chado bhaiya mari dolki

Thare ghar bhavaja, bhai vira

Ma saru suno ghar ki khunali

Chado bhaiya mhari dolki


The bride’s friends are singing on her behalf again lost the main track. The subject (bride) is ignorant and uncomprehending language’s capacity to generate, and to procreate symbols. That’s why instead of giving the straight message folklore is driving the main subject out from the sphere. It is a postponement of the sign from one place to another. That indicates signified is missing in the signification of semi logical system and through which a ritual happens.



To fill the gap, and to prove that folkloric message has a force in it, it’s outcome should be challenged as universal system but men treat these folklores simply as universal law and react neutrally. As I have mentioned earlier that the missing part cannot be a sexiest language, but the return of the postponing subject (either bride, beloved, mother, wife, or daughter) for whom the other women- the supplement conveys her original voice. This conveys a two fold resolution in the process of liberated feminist thinking, first-the original voice should express her voice directly from the folkloric representation, and secondly the other should come as a supplement rather than as a substitution that postpones the original subjectivity. 



(a) Pollock, G (2006) Women as sigh Vision and Difference, New York: Rout ledge.


 (b) Irigaray, L (2005) ‘Love of the other’ An Ethics of Sexual difference,      New York & London: Continuum.


 (c) Kakkar, S (2003) ‘The Maternal Feminine in Indian Psychoanalysis       (1989)    Culture and Psyche New Delhi Oxford University Press.


 (d) Bhatt, C (1966) Haroti Lokgit, Ajmer: Krishna Brothers.


(e) Shambhunath (2000) Ashalilta, Sauaraya Aur Sanskrit in Rajkishore(Ed) Ashalilta Ka Hamala. New Delhi: Venna Prakashan.






Ethics and Feminism Articles

Sue McLean asked:

What do we mean by ethics?

The word ethics comes from a Greek source meaning custom or habit. Ethical philosophy involves the study of right and wrong. Sometimes people use the word morality instead of ethics. Both morality and ethics are about finding out how we ought to live. Ethics is a major branch of philosophy. (The other branches being: epistemology or knowledge, metaphysics or the essential nature of things and logic or reason.

Approaches to Ethics

There are four possible ways of approaching ethics.

Descriptive ethics: involves the description of how things are or the customs of a society.

Normative ethics: is about making moral decisions or deciding what is right and what is wrong. There are two main ways of doing this, namely by intentions or moral rules relating to duty (deontological ethics) or by outcome (teleological).

Meta-ethics; this approach analyses the nature of ethics. It includes both realism and antirealism. Realism is the view that moral values can be discovered, possibly by using intuition. Antirealism is the view that morality is determined by people’s thoughts and feelings

Applied ethics: this is how ethical values may be used in specific circumstances. So for example, the study of abortion would involve an individual applying moral theory to the situation of abortion. In order to do this they may draw on both normative values those of meta-ethics.

Normative Ethics In More Detail

Teleological Theory

Teleological theory is also known as consequentialism and involves outcomes. One example of teleological theory is utilitarianism. According to this theory one should do what creates the most happiness for the greatest number of people. However utilitarians are divided about what happiness is. Some claim that happiness is simply pleasure but others claim it is about minimising pain. Two major exponents of utilitarianism are Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill.

Jeremy Bentham produced the felicific calculus, or hedonic calculus. For Bentham one could calculate the actual amount of pleasure over pain using a sort of mathematical method. The calculus involves taking into account factors such as: intensity, duration and certainty of pleasure.

John Stuart Mill divided pleasure into higher and lower order, claiming cultural, spiritual and intellectual pleasures to be higher order in nature.

Some utilitarians claim that lawmakers ought to apply the happiness principle to formulate general rules for society. These utilitarians are called rule utilitarians. On the other hand, act utilitarians claim that one should apply the happiness principle to each act and so determine the morality of each individual situation.

Not surprisingly there are several criticisms of utilitarianism. One of the main criticisms is the conflict between the greatest number and the greatest happiness. For instance, what if I can create a lot of happiness for one person or a little happiness for lots of people? What should I do? Another problem is to do with how we define happiness because if it is merely pleasure then this is purely hedonistic and somehow this seems wrong. For instance, it may be pleasurable to spend my whole day playing computer games instead of doing my philosophy homework but this does not make playing games the right thing to do.

Deontological Theory

Deontological theory, on the other hand, maintains that we should act out of good intentions, namely duty.

Kant’s theory is perhaps the best known deontological theory. Kant argued that we should do duty for duty’s sake (categorical imperative). This applies regardless of outcome or emotions and that is why it is categorical. (Whereas the hypothetical imperative states: ‘Do X to achieve Y’.)

For Kant our actions must pass the universability test, which means one should ask what would happen if everyone acted in that way. This does not make Kant’s theory consequentialist because he was not concerned with consequences but rather whether any irrationality or contradiction would be produced should everyone act in a certain way.

Kant also said that we should act as though everyone were a member of the kingdom of ends, meaning that we should treat everyone as if they have their own ends or purposes. This contrasts with a very modern and capitalist view that we treat others for our own ends. One of the most positive aspects of Kant’s philosophy is his theme of respect for others, which has been the basis of human rights legislation.

One criticism of Kant’s theory is that he does not explain why we should do duty for duty’s sake.

Meta-ethics in More Depth

Meta means ‘after or beyond’ so this branch of ethics usually goes above or beyond that of normative theory. Examples of meta-ethical theory include: relativism, intuitionism, emotivism and prescriptivism.

Meta-ethical questions include:

What do we mean by good or bad?

How do we make moral judgements?

Are some things always good or bad?

One key issue is to do with whether moral judgements can be objective (realism) or subjective (antirealism). In other words, whether moral judgements are based on the emotions and perceptions of individuals (antirealism) or whether they can be known in some objective way. Another way of stating this is by questioning whether some things are always good independently of any will or view.


Antirealism holds that there is no objective good but that something may be deemed good by individuals. To give an example, if I believe as relativists do, that morality is judged from the perspective of time, place or situation then I am an antirealist. For relativists what is deemed right at one time may not be right at another because there are no objective standards. Thus divorce was once viewed as wrong in Britain but today many people do not judge it as immoral. For relativists this shift in values illustrates the view that nothing is always right or wrong.

Another form of antirealism is the view that ethical statements are neither true nor false. Both emotivism and prescriptivism hold this position. Emotivism holds that morality is about an emotional response so that I may be kind to a kitten because I have an feelings of sympathy towards it. Whereas prescriptivism holds that moral statements imply a prescription or rather imply an action. Therefore the statement ‘it is wrong to commit adultery’ implies ‘you should not commit adultery’.


On the other hand, I may believe that there are objective moral standards or things which are always right or wrong independent of any arbitrary opinion. For instance, I may believe that marriage is for life and judge as unimportant the fact that attitudes have changed to marriage. According to this view divorce may still be wrong even if the consensus of opinion changes so that just because the majority think something is right, it does not follow that it is so.

Intutionism is one example of realism. Intuitionists argue that we know how to respond in a given situation because we have an intuitive understanding of goodness. We have this understanding because goodness is objective.

It is important to realise that realism is not the same as absolutism. Absolutism is a form of antirealism. Absolutism holds that some things are absolutely wrong in all situations but that they are absolutely wrong as the result of some will such as God’s or that of the monarch. For instance, in divine command theory something is deemed wrong because God says it is wrong. However this makes morality subject to God’s will. If something is subject to a will (even God’s) th
en it is not objective. Objective standards hold that some things are always right or wrong independent of any arbitrary will.


In conclusion, there are four approaches to ethics, namely: descriptive, normative, meta-ethics and applied ethics. The last of these four has not been discussed at any length in this paper. However it is important to realise that applied ethics involves the application of normative and meta-ethical theory particular situations such as: abortions, genetics, environment, animal rights etc. Normative theory is about moral judgements and includes both deontological and teleological theories. Meta-ethics is about analysing the nature of ethics and includes both realist and antirealist views.


Benn, P., Ethics, Routledge, 1998

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy at:

Norman, R., The Moral Philosophers, Clarendon Press, 1985

Raeper, W. and Smith, L., A Beginner’s Guide to Ideas, Lion, 1991

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy at

Wikipedia at

An Overview Of Feminism For A Level Students

Feminism often gets a bad press. Feminists are sometimes presented as a homogenous group where the radical is viewed as the norm. This is not the case. There are many different types of feminists. This page gives you an overview of some of these groups.

From a sociological viewpoint most feminism (with the possible exception of postmodern feminism) can be viewed as a macro theory because it gives a view of society as a whole.


This is not so easy to answer as it might at first appear because there are so many different types of feminists. Feminist groups argue against patriarchy, subordination, oppression and androcentrism but what do they mean by these terms? Each group may have different ways of using the terminology. Taking a very generalised view, patriarchy is about structuring society according to male domination whereas androcentrism is a male dominated way of viewing the world. However what consititutes structuring the world according to male domination is a matter for debate.


Liberal Feminism

Liberal feminists may speak about justice in gender issues. There are two main ways they understand this. Firstly, a classical liberalist may argue that we should remove discriminatory laws to allow equality of opportunity. Whereas a welfare liberalist may argue in favour of so called ‘positive discrimination’. According to the welfare view, society ought to compensate women for centuries of discrimination by treating women more favourably than men.

Radical Feminism

This form of feminism is still evolving and can take many forms but it nevertheless holds that the oppression of women is the most fundamental oppression in that it is: rooted in history, the deepest form of oppression, the cause of the most suffering and the conceptual model for understanding all other forms of oppression (Alison Jagger and Paula Rothenberg as explained by Rosemary Tong, p. 71)

One issue frequently under discussion by radical feminists is reproduction. Feminists such as Firestone argue that reproduction forms a class distinction between men and women. Firestone advocates a biological revolution where the ultimate goal is an androgenous society. Other radical feminists such as Adrienne Rich argue that reproduction is empowering for women.

Marxist Feminism

A key theme in Marxism is the alienation of the proletariat or workers. Marxist feminists generally see women as a class and argue that women are, like the proletariat, alienated in society. Marxist feminists are divided regarding how this imbalance may be rectified. For instance, Engels argued that men retain power because of their access to work. His view was, broadly speaking, that inequalities would reduce once women access work. Modern Marxist feminists often view the traditional roles adopted by women (mother and wife) as unproductive in that being a wife and/or mother is about the production of people (care for others), rather than the production of money or goods. Some Marxist feminists therefore advocate paying women for adopting a mother-wife role. Others advocate women working outside of the home. The main problem with the latter being that far from freeing women, this often results in women getting caught up in the capitalist system, juggling the demands of work and family.

Psychoanalytic Feminism

Again this is a very broad category, with several feminists criticising Freud for his failure to challenge the patriarchal institutions of his time. For instance, Firestone claimed that Freud ought to have found ways to free women and children from the tyrrany of the father. However Alfred Adler argued that patriarchy drives women literally to madness as neuroses become ways for women protest against their oppression (Tong, p. 147).

Postmodern Feminism

Postmodernism rejects the idea that there is one singular true view of the world and in this way it may be seen to be a micro theory. Postmodern feminists may argue that no-one, including other women, may speak for all women. Each woman should have the opportunity to become herself, whatever that may be. Postmodern feminists include diverse theories such as those of: Helen Cixous, Luce Irigaray and Julia Kristeva.

Sexual Difference Feminism: Luce Irigaray

Sexual difference feminism (SDF) differs from the difference feminism that Haralambos introduces. The latter holds that different groups of women are exploited to different levels. SDF is about how men and women are different and as such ought not to be treated the same. Perhaps the best known exponent of SDF is Luce Irigaray. One of her arguments focuses on the plurality of women as opposed to the singularity of men. For Irigaray one problem for women is that our views of the world are not so valued as those of men.


Haralambos, M., and Holborn, M., SOCIOLOGY THEMES AND PERSPECTIVES, Collins, 2000

Irigaray, L., AN ETHICS OF SEXUAL DIFFERENCE, Athlone Press, 1984

Jagger, A.M., FEMINIST POLITICS AND HUMAN NATURE, Rowman and Allanheld, 1983

Tong, R., FEMINIST THOUGHT, Westview, 1989

Wikipedia at