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Philosophy 109

Philosophy 109
Philosophy of the Body, Feminism, and Gender

Instructor: Ana Torres-Bower Phone: (562) 860-2451
Voice mail – 2772       E-mail:   
Office: SS 131    Office Hours: M/T/W - 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm or by appointment


Course Description:

3.0 UNITS Class hours: 3.0 Lecture
Prerequisite: Completion of the English placement process with eligibility for ENGL 100 or completion of ENGL 52 or equivalent with a grade of Pass or “C” or higher. 

This course will examine philosophical scholarship on feminism, gender, and theory of the body in the areas of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and aesthetics. Questions about gender identity, the nature of the self and personal identity, friendship, the feminist
conception of knowledge, feminism and philosophy of language, philosophy of religion, philosophy of science; misogynist patterns in philosophical texts, male responses to feminism, moral theories, and feminist questions about beauty and art will be examined in the course, while students are also engaged in understanding the fundamentals of philosophy. This course is not open to students who are enrolled in WS 109 or have received credit in WS 109.   Transfer Credit: CSU; UC


Cudd, Ann E.  and Robin O. Andreasen.  Feminist Theory: A Philosophical Anthology.     
Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2005  

*Access Talon Net for other class materials and information, including your grades

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) for PHIL 109:

1. Students explain traditional and non-canonical arguments in support of or against the ontology of gender and body
2. Students provide examples of theories on gender identity, the nature of the self and personal identity, friendship, and personal relationships

3. Students explain traditional and non-traditional theories of feminist conceptions of knowledge, philosophy of language, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of science
4. Students compare and contrast male responses to contemporary moral, social, and political feminist theories 
5. Students relate feminist questions about beauty and art to the traditional and non-traditional canons of theories of the body, feminism, and gender


Week 1    Course Introduction: 

Topic:      Introduction to Feminist Philosophy
Reading:     Introduction    
Writing:     What is feminism?                            

Week 2   

What is Feminism?
Reading: John Stuart Mill: "The Subjection of Women" 
Writing:   Seminar 1 due   

Week 3       

What is Feminism?
Reading:  Simone de Beauvoir: Introduction from The Second Sex 

Week 4  

What is Feminism?
Reading:  Kate Millett: Theory of Sexual Politics 
Writing:  Seminar 2 due                         

Week 5   

What is Sexism? 
Reading:  Ann E. Cudd and Leslie E. Jones:  Sexism                      

Week 6    Evaluating Argument

What is Sexism?
Reading:  Iris Marion Jones: Five Faces of Oppression
Writing:   Seminar 3 due      

Week 7    

What is Gender?              
Reading:    Elizabeth A. Lloyd:Pre-theoretical Assumptions in Evolutionary Explanations of Female Sexuality                  
Writing: Seminar 4 due

Week 8    

What is Gender?                         
Reading: Judith Butler: Subjects of Sex/Gender/Desire
Writing:   Essay Due:   1000 words   (Mid Term)

Week 9 

Is Knowledge Gendered? 
Reading: Genevieve Lloyd: The Man of Reason                        
Writing:   Seminar 5 due          

Week 10      

Is Knowledge Gendered?      
Reading:   Helen E. Longino: Can there be a Feminist Science? 

               Spring Recess       

 Week 11  

Is Value Gendered?
Reading: Annette Baier: The Need for More than Justice         
Writing:  Your précis/proposal and annotated bibliography.

Précis/proposal: In @500 words, provide a working title for your project, your thesis statement, and a summary of the key points your paper will explore. Annotated bibliography: provide a bibliography of ten possible sources for your final project, presented according to MLA guidelines. Under the six sources you are most likely to use for your paper, provide entries of @75 words each. The entries should summarize the work and explain the value of this work for your project.

Week 12       

Is Value Gendered?
Reading:   Martha Nussbaun: Women and Cultural Universals 
Writing:   Seminar 6 Due                         

Week 13    

What is a Self?                                               
Reading:  Jean Grimshaw: Autonomy and Identity in Feminist Thinking                
Writing:   Completion of   Major Paper Draft

Week 14     

What would Liberation Be?     
Reading:   Susan Moller Okin:Toward a Humanist Justice
Writing:    Seminar 7 Due

Week 15                       

The Body                   
Reading:  Susan Bordo:”Material Girl”: The Effacements of Postmodern Culture  
Writing:  Seminar 8 Due         

Week 16   

The Body                   
Reading:  Kathryn Pauly Morgan:   Women and the Knife: Cosmetic Surgery and the Colonization of Women’s Bodies
Writing:  Seminar 9 Due                                   

Week 17  

Class Presentations

Week 18 Final Exams Week


Student’s Responsibilities:

1. Reading and completing assigned writings on time.
2. Students should be aware that the last day to withdraw with a grade of "W" is   April 20th.  After that date, it is mandatory that the student be assigned a grade.
3. Students must submit all writing projects at the scheduled time.
4. There is no extra credit available in this course.
5. Students who are absent in excess of 10% of the total class hours (54 hrs) are subject to drop from the course.  Exceptions for authorized or excused absences are considered on individual basis.
6. Acceptable behavior in the class will include
     a. Listening and giving attention to the instructor and the subject matter under consideration.  Giving the same attention to other class members during discussions, question periods, etc., in order to increase learning.
     b. Showing other members of the class, and the instructor, the same kind of respect for their ideas, feelings, perceptions, and beliefs that is desired for oneself.
7.  Practice of Good Classroom Citizenship:

It is highly encouraged to avoid absences, tardiness, or leaving early.  Inform the instructor about your attendance contingencies.  Turn OFF cellular phone and pagers before entering the classroom.  Promote intellectual engagement among your peers and instructor by avoiding distractions irrelevant to the class.        

Grading Criteria:

Seminars and classroom writing exercises:    These are weekly, open book, short assessments (10-15 points each).  There are no make-ups for missing in-class writing exercises.

Seminars total value points: 100 (10 points each)

In-class writing activities: 100 points (10/15/20/ points each according to the writing activity)

Exams:   Mid-term and Final exams are take-home writing activities.

Exams value points:      Mid Term Exam: 100 points
                                   Final Exam: 100 points

Writing project:  Your writing project is comprised of various parts.  Refer to project guidelines section for details.            

Proposal Value: 25 points
Draft: Value: 50 points
Final Version: Value 100 points
Class Presentation: Value: 25 points 

General guidelines for your class project


 Provide – These are the elements of analysis or content of your writing project.

●           Background information about the selected   ______ (cultural and historical elements,   etc.) 

●           Definition of Philosophy of the Body, Feminism, and Gender by referencing to the topics and ideas examined in class.    

●           Principles of Philosophy of the Body, Feminism, and Gender relevant to your selection

●           Analysis of __________according to philosophical theories examined in class.          

●           Features/questions relevant to contemporary judgments of Philosophy of the Body, Feminism, and Gender

●           Conclusion: questions, issues, your supported view, recommendations, etc.       


             MLA style

            Include the three texts examined in class

Provide at least four additional bibliographical sources.  Indicate why these sources will help your project.  This information is part of the bibliographical annotation.

Schedule to complete your class project:

Week 11 – Proposal due (Précis and Annotated Bibliography); Sample of proposal (précis) will be provided.  Value: 25 points
Week 14 – Draft: Value: 50 points
Week 16 – Final Version: Value 100 points
Week 17 – Class Presentation: Value: 25 points

Electronic Sources:

Society for Women in Philosophy Web Page



Jim Harnish, NSCC


            A Seminar is one of the primary modes of learning in our philosophy class.  The seminar is what sets this class apart from other types of classes.  So what is a seminar?  How do you prepare for a seminar?  What and how do you learn in a seminar?

            A seminar brings together an interested group of learners who have done some preparation, including having read, thought about and written about a particularly good book.  This solitary preparation should include marking the text for interesting passages, reviewing those sections, organizing one’s thoughts on paper and producing significant questions that need to be explored.

            In the seminar the group is responsible for exploring the text and probing the ideas people have brought from their individual reading of the text.  It is a time to “mine” the text, to work it over as a group, to think aloud about it, and to test some ideas against the group.  For example, the following might be overheard in a seminar:  “I don’t know if this is valid but it seems that the author is saying....” Or: “Here on page 15 at the bottom of the page there is this passage [read from text]. This seems to be an important passage. It is worth looking at closely....” Or: “This part connects interestingly with this other part.”

            A seminar is not an arena for performance to show you’ve read the text or a reporting session to read your papers.  It’s more than a class discussion and it definitely is not a time for a lecture from an expert who will tell the group what they should get from this book.  There may be places for those activities but not in seminar. Seminar is a special time for a unique intellectual activity.  The exchange of ideas is focused on a source (a book, play or film) and is aimed primarily at getting more deeply into the source.

            A good way to keep focused on the text at hand is to respond to the following three questions:

1. WHAT DOES THE TEXT SAY? —Point to the exact page and           paragraph so everyone   can read along.

2. WHAT DOES THE TEXT MEAN? — Explain or interpret the passage in your own words.

3. WHY IS THIS POINT IMPORTANT?--Agree or disagree, or           compare it to other ideas or experiences.

Make sure you keep these three questions distinct, because each question forces the group to discuss the text in different ways.  The first one asks for the facts.  The second searches for concepts or interpretations behind the exact words or inferences between the lines.  The third seeks an evaluation or hypothesis -- your own analysis, reaction, or evaluation.

            Sometimes the seminar will be focused and free-flowing.  Sometimes it will be searching, questioning, and going deeper to understand ideas from a book, from others or from within yourself.  Sometimes the group will come to some conclusions.  Sometimes it will seem like a series of disconnected activities, like a popcorn popper, with ideas jumping around the table without clear connections.  In either case, the seminar is a place to discover new ideas, to re-look at old ideas, or to develop insightful connections among ideas.

            The teacher’s role in a seminar is, at best, to be a model of an experienced learner; not to be the focus of attention, or the authority who will tell you what you should learn. Don’t let the faculty member give a lecture in seminar!  Everyone must take responsibility for co-leading and sharing ideas.

            Participants must learn to actively listen to each other and speak openly to the whole group, not just to the leader.  The group must learn to be sensitive to the needs of all.  The natural talkers must be disciplined in order to learn how to listen better. The quiet people must learn to be more assertive and to share their insights, even if they are not comfortable doing that.  Everyone should speak during each seminar.

            Speak in turn and allow others to finish their thoughts.  Do not interrupt one another.  Silent periods are OK.  Silence gives time to process thoughts, so try to become comfortable with it.  Address an idea or argument by connecting it to what someone else has said.  Summarize the point you are responding to, and then provide your own idea.

            Finally if things are not going well, it is our responsibility individually and collectively to put things right.  Keep taking the pulse of the group and make adjustments so that everyone can have the opportunity to have a meaningful intellectual experience in seminar.  The best question to ask is not “how am I doing,” but rather “how is our seminar going?”

            Leaving the seminar with more questions than you came with, or being somewhat confused and overwhelmed with new ideas, is a sign your seminar is working.  You will come to realize in seminar that a great book is not something you read once and then feel satisfied you have learned all you can learn from it.  Rather, a great book is one which stimulates continuing intellectual curiosity and which demands from you a re-reading and a continuing discussion of it — maybe for the rest of your life.


Seminar Form # __________

(An opportunity to discover new ideas,
To re-look at old ideas or
To develop insightful connections among ideas)


Name: ___________________________________________________

Class:   T/TH                Date: ___________                 PHIL _________

What does the text say? [Asking about facts; exact page and paragraph]



What does the text mean? [Searching for concepts or interpretations; explain or interpret the passage in your own words] This is your worldview.



Why is this point important? [Seeking for an evaluation or hypothesis; agree or disagree, or compare it to other ideas or experiences]  Analysis; It should provide evidence from ideas and theories examined in class.


Keeping record of your scores: 

100 points total                        100 points total                 100 points each


Quiz 1 ________                        SEM 1 ______                         Mid/Term Exam_______


Quiz 2_______                          SEM 2 ______


Quiz 3_______                          SEM 3 ______    


Quiz 4_______                          SEM 4 ______                         Class Project (A) ________

                                                                                    [Précis; Draft; Presentation]


Quiz 5_______                          SEM 5 ______                         Class Project (B) ________   

                                                                                    [Paper Final Version]

Quiz 6_______                          SEM 6 ______  


Quiz 7_______                          SEM 7 ______                                                                                                                                                            

Quiz 8______                            SEM 8 ______


Quiz 9 ______                           SEM 9 ______                         Final Exam _______


Quiz 10 _____                           SEM 10 _____


Total Quiz   __________         Total SEM _________    Total Exam Grade   ______


                                                                                 GRAND TOTAL __________ 


There is a strict policy on late papers. Homework is due at the beginning of class on the date printed in your syllabus. Absence does not excuse late work. If you have an emergency, have someone else deliver your work on time. Missed class work cannot be made up. Late work will be penalized, usually by one step per day. A paper that would receive a B if turned in on time will receive a B- the first day late, a C+ the second day, and so on.

Important: all essays for this class must be turned in, even if they are late, to pass the class.


Research in college success shows that constant attendance is the single most important way for you to ensure satisfactory completion of any college course. Be sure to come to class, even if you feel unprepared. The best way to catch up is to get right into the swing of things.

Cerritos College has a strict attendance policy which will be maintained in this class. You may miss seven hours without failing the class. Absences are for unavoidable emergencies only--not routine doctors’ appointments or a new schedule on the job. I trust that if you have missed class you have suffered an emergency, so you do not need to provide documentation unless you want leniency on a quiz or essay you might have missed. In such cases documentation is needed and may not be accepted. Too many absences will result in a lowered final grade and may result in your being dropped from the class. Two late arrivals or two early departures are one absence.

Special arrangements are privileges, not rights. Keep in touch with all of your instructors if you have special circumstances.


Maybe it is the night before a paper is due and you are in a panic. Maybe you can’t find your syllabus and you need the assignment. Maybe you just want to gripe or mull over an idea with a cohort. Maybe you have had a stroke of brilliance and you want someone to hear it. Call your buddy!

In this class we are on the buddy system. You will make friends with two classmates who will be there for you. Buddies help each other succeed in the class. You have someone to call; they have someone to call.

Although participation in the buddy system is technically optional, it is strongly recommended.

Buddy name and phone # ____________________________________________

Buddy name and phone # ___________________________________________


Tools for Philosophy

Aristotle asserted that human beings must philosophize.

We philosophize when we present arguments to support the claim that something is true or real about our actions (ethics), our worldviews (metaphysics), and our system of knowledge (epistemology).

Professional philosophers – present their thoughts through carefully structured arguments; take pains to organize their positions and make them consistent, systematic; are interested in thinking intentionally, seriously and systematic on bigger and  deeper issues.  Philosophers start with meaningful questions and question our fundamental answers.  This is called a “second order of thinking”; thinking about our thinking.

Why study Philosophy?

1) It sharpens the mind-

2) It helps us to clarify issues, discriminate among options and make better decisions-

3)  It enhances our personal life-

4) It assists us in investigating and substantiating (or replacing) our personal convictions-


Toward a philosophical attitude-

●           It calls for a community of tolerance; open to a wide spectrum of ideas

●           It deepens the accuracy and clarity among all participants

●           It calls to pay attention to philosophical concepts

●           It’s a living enterprise


Fundamental tool of Analysis in philosophy:

Argument- A group of statement in which some of them (the premises) are intended to support another of them (the conclusion)


Standard Form of an Argument (SFA):


            P1: Statement w/ truth value (T or F)              

            P2: Statement w/ truth value (T or F)

            P3: Statement w/ truth value (T or F)


            Conclusion: Statement w/ truth value (T or F)



                        Critical Thinking (CT) - Why it matters:


Our thinking guides our actions, so it should be of high quality.
If you have never critically examined your beliefs, they are not truly yours.
To examine your beliefs is to examine your life.  Socrates says in the Apology [a philosophical dialogue written by Plato]:  “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Critical thinking involves determining what we’re justified (supported by true and relevant evidence) in believing, being open to new perspectives, and fairly assessing the views of others and ourselves.  [This is the principle of charity in CT: examining a position in the “best possible light”; giving to other views the “benefit of the doubt” rather than rejecting them in principle]
Critical thinking complements both our emotions and our creativity.
Critical thinking is thinking outside the box [conventions, unexamined assumptions, and beliefs].

CT entails a formal style of reasoning where students learn about systems and procedures (tools) to examine and assess the merits of evidence provided in support of a claim.  In addition to understand the rules and principles to evaluate whether a claim is well supported or not, CT provides a framework of reference for students to inquire if their beliefs are justified by personal prejudices and biases.  It is expected that the practice of CT standards such as objectivity, logical correctness, and accuracy, among many others, will enable the student to carefully examine and perhaps change some of their most basic beliefs if such principles and assumptions are inconsistent with fundamental principles of analysis.  



The Minimum Conception of Philosophy –


The effort to guide one’s conduct or opinion by reason – that is, to do what there are the best reasons for doing- while giving equal weight to the interests of each individual who will be affected by what one does.


The conscientious philosopher-


●           Concerned with impartiality with the interests of everyone affected

●           Carefully sifts facts and examine their implications

●           Accepts principle of conduct only after scrutinizing them for soundness

●           Willing to “listen to reason” even when it means that prior convictions (beliefs) may have to be revised

●           Willing to act on the results of this deliberation        



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