Feminist Interpretations of John Rawls

Hardback or cased
Ruth Abbey
Published 28 Aug 2013
List Price £51.95



“This volume provides readers with a series of diverse, refreshingly open-minded, and very insightful feminist perspectives on the works of John Rawls. The essays are impressive on their own. Together they expand the parameters of feminist philosophy.”

—Marion Smiley, Brandeis University

“This is an extensive and very important collection that covers both the feminist potential of Rawls’s theory and the major trends in liberal feminism. The emergence of feminism as a public political philosophy will owe a great deal to Ruth Abbey’s careful and balanced presentation and to her choice of thought-provoking contributors who all engage in serious critical debates with Rawls’s main conceptions.”

—Catherine Audard, London School of Economics

In Feminist Interpretations of John Rawls, Ruth Abbey collects eight essays responding to the work of John Rawls from a feminist perspective. An impressive introduction by the editor provides a chronological overview of English-language feminist engagements with Rawls from his Theory of Justice onward. Abbey surveys the range of issues canvassed by feminist readers of Rawls, as well as critics’ wide disagreement about the value of Rawls’s corpus for feminist purposes. The eight essays that follow testify to the continuing ambivalence among feminist readers of Rawls. From the perspectives of political theory and moral, social, and political philosophy, the contributors address particular aspects of Rawls’s work and apply it to a variety of worldly practices relating to gender inequality and the family, to the construction of disability, to justice in everyday relationships, and to human rights on an international level. The overall effect is to give a sense of the broad spectrum of possible feminist critical responses to Rawls, ranging from rejection to adoption.

Aside from the editor, the contributors are Amy R. Baehr, Eileen Hunt Botting, Elizabeth Brake, Clare Chambers, Nancy J. Hirschmann, Anthony Simon Laden, Janice Richardson, and Lisa H. Schwartzman.



List of Abbreviations


Biography of a Bibliography: Three Decades of Feminist Response to Rawls

Ruth Abbey

1 Radical Liberals, Reasonable Feminists: Reason, Power, and Objectivity in MacKinnon and Rawls

Anthony Simon Laden

2 Feminism, Method, and Rawlsian Abstraction

Lisa H. Schwartzman

3 Rereading Rawls on Self-Respect: Feminism, Family Law, and the Social Bases of Self-Respect

Elizabeth Brake

4 “The Family as a Basic Institution”: A Feminist Analysis of the Basic Structure as Subject

Clare Chambers

5 Rawls, Freedom, and Disability: A Feminist Rereading

Nancy J. Hirschmann

6 Rawls on International Justice

Eileen Hunt Botting

7 Jean Hampton’s Reworking of Rawls: Is “Feminist Contractarianism” Useful for Feminism?

Janice Richardson

8 Liberal Feminism: Comprehensive and Political

Amy R. Baehr


List of Contributors


Ruth Abbey is Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame.

A collection of essays that explore the philosophy and political theory of John Rawls from a variety of feminist perspectives.