Philosophical Studies

, Volume 174, Issue 10, pp 2467–2478 | Cite as

Substantivity in feminist metaphysics

  • Theodore SiderEmail author


Elizabeth Barnes and Mari Mikkola raise the important question of whether certain recent approaches to metaphysics exclude feminist metaphysics. My own approach (from my book Writing the Book of the World) does not, or so I argue. I do define “substantive” questions in terms of fundamentality; and the concepts of feminist metaphysics (and social metaphysics generally) are nonfundamental. But my definition does not count a question as being nonsubstantive simply because it involves nonfundamental concepts. Questions about the causal structure of the world, including the causal structure of the social world, are generally substantive because their answers are not sensitive to any alternate, equally good conceptual choices we could have made. I also argue that such questions are substantive regardless of the ontology of social kinds.


Haslanger Social ontology Substantivity Metametaphysics Feminist metaphysics Social metaphysics 



This paper began as comments on Elizabeth Barnes, “Realism and Social Structure”, and Mari Mikkola, “Non-Ideal Metaphysics: On the Apparent Antagonism between Feminist and Mainstream Metaphysics” for an APA Session on Feminist Metaphysics, April, 2015. Thanks to Heather Battaly for helpful comments, to Barnes and Mikkola for their stimulating papers, and to Barnes for a lengthy and useful correspondence.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

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