Why Feminism Entails (Real) Panpsychism
Thursday, October 20th, 2016
Feminist philosophers have long argued that mind-body dualism facilitates oppression because it entails a hierarchical valuation of the mental over the bodily that respectively maps onto differential valuations of men and women, among other pairings. Recently, Galen Strawson and David Chalmers have championed the metaphysical position of panpsychism in virtue of its capacity to overcome the mind-body problem without positing emergence or generating conceivability problems in regard to the nature of mind. If Strawson and Chalmers are correct that panpsychism is the most viable alternative to Cartesian dualism—and I believe that they are—then the following question arises out of the intersection of feminist philosophy and philosophy of mind: Must feminism be grounded in a panpsychic metaphysics? This chapter develops an argument for the affirmative position. However, not just any kind of panpsychism is consistent with feminism. Unlike the versions of panpsychism advocated by Strawson and Chalmers, feminist panpsychism must be a “real panpsychism” that attributes minds all the way down to rocks, plants, inanimate objects, and so on. Not only is real panpsychism the only panpsychism capable of neutralizing the hierarchies that justify oppression, but it is also the only approach that can genuinely avoid emergence, thus making it one of the most desirable options in the philosophy of mind.
Dominican University College