Cover image for Vol. 29 Issue 2

Edited By: Sally J. Scholz (Villanova University) Book Review Editor: Shelley Wilcox (San Francisco State University)

Impact Factor: 0.338

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2012: 25/38 (Women's Studies)

Online ISSN: 1527-2001

Introduction: Retrospective Virtual Issue

Lori Gruen and Alison Wylie

Read virtual issue

The impetus for founding Hypatia dates back almost forty years; the journal took shape as a collective project, first envisioned as possibility – indeed, an urgently felt necesssity– in early meetings of the Society for Women and Philosophy (the first of these was in 1970). A mandate for the journal was drafted in the mid-1970s, and a founding editorial board established in 1977; the journal was named Hypatia at a meeting of its new Editorial Board and Azizah al-Hibri was appointed its founding editor in 1980. Three years later, the first issue of Hypatia appeared; it was a special issue of Women’s Studies International Forum, which hosted three such issues (1983-1985). And in 1986, Hypatia began publication as an autonomous journal under the editorship of Margaret Simons. So the 25th Anniversary we mark this year – with the publication in Volume 25 – is really a celebration of close to thirty years of continuous publication of feminist philosophy by Hypatia, and a recognition of the extraordinary vision and commitment of those who, in the mid-1970s, resolved to establish a venue in which feminist scholarship could flourish within philosophy.

It has been inspiring and humbling to learn just what it took to create and to sustain Hypatia over these years. The introduction to the Special Issue provides a detailed account of what we learned, and you’ll find some fascinating background that doesn’t appear anywhere in print in the conference podcasts and videos posted online (URL below). The virtual issue that we introduce here honors the creative, intellectual accomplishments of all the contributors who have made Hypatia the journal it is today and who have, in the process, established feminist philosophy as a vibrant field. The sixteen papers that make up this issue were nominated for special recognition. Over the last year we circulated a call asking Hypatia readers which articles had been especially generative for their own work, and formative for feminist philosophy. We received an enormously rich set of nominations, and selected those that were most frequently nominated. Most of these articles also figured prominently in submissions to the 25th Anniversary conference and Special issue, and a quick check of the JSTOR download reports for Hypatia and of Google Scholar citations show that they have a robust readership; as those who nominated them made clear, these are articles that capture especially well the thinking on pivotal issues, at key junctures, in the development of feminist philosophy as a field.

In addition to these sixteen articles, two articles that appeared in the initial three Hypatia special issues of WSIF were nominated multiple times with particularly warm appreciation. We cannot include these here, but we want to recognize them as emblematic of the strikingly original work that made it possible to establish Hypatia as an autonomous journal. The nomination for the first of these captures the significance of both – as “galvanizing internal critique authority and sameness in feminist theory.”

  • Maria Lugones and Elizabeth Spelman, "Have we got a theory for you: Feminist theory, cultural imperialism, and the demand for 'the women's voice'" Hypatia: A Special Issue of Women's Studies International Forum 6 (1983): 573-81.

  • Iris Marion Young, "Humanism, gynocentrism and feminist politics" Hypatia: A Special Issue of Women’s Studies International Forum 8 (1985): 173–83.

We present the articles that make up this Virtual Retrospective in chronological order. As much as there is to say about each of these articles we make no attempt to contextualize them; we feel that they speak for themselves and that their nominators say more eloquently than we could what they stand for. So by way of introduction, we offer a précis of the nomination statements we received for each of these articles.

María Lugones, “Playfulness, ‘World’-travelling, and Loving Perception" 2.2 (1987): 3-19.
- This article was nominated and cited more frequently than any other, and appears on every list we saw of “most influential publications in feminist philosophy.” Here is a sample of statements made by those who nominated it for this Retrospective Virtual Issue.
- A brilliant paper that I keep coming back to again and again; personally challenging and philosophically rich.
- Central to developing the method of intersectional analysis.
- Such a great teaching piece; it brings Anzaluda's metaphysics of identity to a philosophical audience and helps us to challenge essentialism from a mestiza perspective.

Helen E. Longino, "Can There Be a Feminist Science?" 2.3 (1987): 51-64.
- A pivotal paper in the science and values debate.
- I refer back to this work both in teaching and in my own scholarship. Although it evokes a particular time in the development of feminist philosophy, it also has a perspective that remains important and contested.
- Although Longino focuses here on a specific question about feminist research practice, in this short piece and in her Signs article with Ruth Doell (from a few years earlier), she anticipates virtually all the issues that have been central to feminist philosophy of science. Repays close reading every time!

Uma Narayan “Working Together Across Difference: Some Considerations on Emotions and Political Practice” 3.2 (1988): 31-48.
Two papers by Uma Narayan were nominated for this Virtual Issue; her “Critique of Cultural Essentialism” (1998) and, slightly more frequently, this one. Here are statements about the significance of each of them.
- The concept of “epistemic humility” is hugely important – nothing captures so poignantly and with such subtlety the complex interplay of insight and marginality. The great gift of this paper is that its philosophical insight is matched by its grounded, practicality. This is philosophy that matters; philosophy not on holiday; philosophy engaged in the best possible sense.
- Narayan analyzes the strongest version of cultural relativism as a healthy alternative to essentialist conceptions of “Other” cultures, and her hesitations enhance the conceptual framing of this pedagogic experiment. She points out that belief in universal sameness (essentialism) and difference (relativism) have both been deployed for imperialist aims and are both threats to feminism. She advocates, instead, that we look to contextualized histories of colonial interactions to determine how and why Othering binary systems have been developed and perpetuated.

Susan Wendell, "Toward A Feminist Theory of Disability" 4.2 (1989): 104-124.
- Simply groundbreaking!!
- This discussion of disability as social constructed was absolutely transformative for me; sadly, although there’s lots more in the literature now than when Wendell so poignantly said ‘we need a theory of disability’, the attitudes and the issues she describes are still with us. Most important is her clear declaration that we need multiple theories of disability, theories from diverse standpoints, theories that expand our collective horizons so we can imagine multiple ways of living – ill and happy, ill and productive.

Val Plumwood, "Nature, Self, and Gender: Feminism, Environmental Philosophy and the Critique of Rationalism” 6.1 (1991): 3-27.
- I read this article as a graduate student in environmental philosophy with strong-yet-undeveloped interests in ecofeminism. It literally gave me that "aha!" moment that inspired me to see the connections between feminist critiques of the atomistic, paradigmatically male, rights-holding individual that dominates political philosophy and the law, and the vision of ecofeminists who seek more inclusive, non-dualistic modes of ethico-political representation for the non-human. Val Plumwood showed, in an original and brilliant way, that critiques of instrumental rationality – the harms it does not just to women but to indigenous peoples and the more-than-human world – require an interrogation of how feminist concerns are also ecological ones. “Nature, Self, and Gender” is still, for me, the most powerful explication of why we need an ethics, drawn from feminism, that is non-dualistic, that embraces difference, centers on care, compassion, and contextuality. It is as pertinent today as when it first appeared.

Phyllis Rooney, “Gendered Reason: Sex Metaphor and Conceptions of Reason” 6.2 (1991): 77–103.
- This article shows how metaphors work a two-way street: it's not just that the representation of reason as masculine damages women, but that the attempt to model reason as a type of specifically masculine virtue distorts our conception of reason. It's been very important in my reflections on how gender symbolism distorts our thought.

Jacquelyn N. Zita, “Male Lesbians and the Postmodernist Body” 7.4 (1992): 106-127.
Be sure to view the podcast (posted online) for the opening keynote panel of the 25th Anniversary conference, “A Journal of Her Own: Hypatia Founders and Editors” when you read this article! There’s an absolutely riveting (and hilarious) account of the fallout, for the then editors of Hypatia, when Rush Limbaugh made “Male Lesbians” the target of his vitriolic attention.
- An enormously creative essay within the fairly slim feminist philosophical literature related to sexual orientation.

Sue Campbell, “Being Dismissed: The Politics of Emotional Expression” 9.3 (1994): 46-65.
- Simply put, this article changed my life. As a philosopher it brought me into feminist analysis, and has been a vital element of my theoretical endeavors ever since. In my personal life, it gave me the courage to validate my feelings with the help of supportive communities. I now had justification for many of my emotions and the careful analysis of social inequities gave me a framework for communicating them. The article not only deeply inspired me but continues to inspire students when I teach it.

Ann Ferguson, “Twenty Years of Feminist Philosophy” 9.3 (1994): 197-215.
- This piece is not widely known but it is a trenchant assessment of both the accomplishments of feminist philosophers and the risks of “mainstreaming” at a point when feminist scholarship was rapidly becoming professionalized. Ferguson challenges us to consider the costs of losing touch with the political struggles that inspired us as feminists – of succumbing to the pressure to indulge in theory for its own sake, for the sake of recognition within the profession. Her analysis of the main sources of grass-roots influence that shaped feminist philosophy in its formative years is a timely reminder of what the stakes are. She couldn’t be more right, that “lip-service theory won’t give us the global analytic we need” in a world where interlocking systems of social domination are increasingly powerful, and global.

Elizabeth Anderson, “Feminist Epistemology: An Interpretation and a Defense” 10.3 (1995):50-84.
Two articles by Liz Anderson were nominated: this one and her later article, “Uses of Value Judgments in Science” (2004). This article drew warm commendation as foundational to feminist philosophy of science so we chose it for this Retrospective, but “Uses of Value Judgments” clearly shows how the field has developed.
- Why do we have to defend the very possibility of doing feminist philosophy of science, not just back in the day when the field was first imagined, but over and over again. OK, I know why: because critics like Haack are incapable of reading feminist theories of science as anything but cynical and self-defeating. But at least something good came of these astonishingly bad (and old) arguments; they provoked Anderson to publish a particularly elegant analysis of what’s at stake epistemically in the challenges to conventional conceptions of science posed by feminists and by a whole world of contextualists: social epistemologists and socially naturalized philosophy of science.
- A foundational argument for recognizing the affinities between feminist epistemology and (socially) naturalized epistemologies of other types – and for recognizing that feminist perspectives on epistemological questions should not be equated with or reduced to essentialist claims (of the sort associated with “women’s ways of knowing” theories), but nonetheless offers distinctive insights.

Claudia Card, “Rape as a Weapon of War” 11.4 (1996): 5-18.
In addition to strong endorsement for “Rape as a Weapon of War,” we also received several nominations for Card’s “Against Marriage and Motherhood” (1996). We chose “Rape as a Weapon of War” as an especially generative article that anticipates Card’s influential later work on “the atrocity paradigm” and on genocide. The contributions to the Hypatia special issue “Oppression and Moral Agency: Essays in Honor of Claudia Card” (24.1, 2009) bear witness to the powerful influence of Card’s work on the issues articulated, with particular clarity, in this article.
- This article provides a very influential paradigm of genocide through the concept of social death, and is widely discussed by both supporters and critics. Card also makes a crucial contribution by bringing the issues of genocide into the field of feminist philosophy.

Alison Bailey, “Locating Traitorous Identities: Toward a Privilege-Cognizant View of White Character” 13.3 (1998): 27-42.
- Situates questions of white identity in the context of feminist epistemology. Nice link between Feminist Standpont theory and some of the work on resistant white identities. Fun to teach.
- A wonderful discussion of “whitely scripts” and ways of cultivating disruptive, traitorous alternatives to them. I find Bailey’s rethinking of Harding’s standpoint theory especially productive here; creative strategies of travel that make epistemic insight from the margins a matter of practice rather than identity.

Nancy Tuana, “Coming to Understand: Orgasm and the Epistemology of Ignorance” 19.1 (2004): 194-232.
- This is such a great example of learned ignorance in the context of women's personal knowledge of sexuality, and how that ignorance is reflected in science studies. A great article for teaching questions of socially constructed ignorance.
- She stimulated me to link epistemic ignorance, standpoint theory and virtue epistemology and relate them to human flourishing.”

Charles W. Mills, “’Ideal Theory’ As Ideology” 20.3 (2005): 165-183.
- I think this is the very best description of the distinction between ideal and non-ideal theory and one of the best defenses of the value of doing non-ideal theorizing in philosophy that pays attention to structures of oppression.
- Such a welcome corrective to the chorus of commentaries that make feminist ethics out to be a one-track preoccupation with “care” and then dismisses the whole field as not-philosophy. Mills asks the crucial question: who is served by properly philosophical theories and by the virtues of context stripping idealization they exemplify? It seems so obvious, but absolutely transformative.

Mariana Ortega, “Being Lovingly, Knowingly Ignorant: White Feminism and Women of Color” 21.3 (2006): 56-74.
- Ortega brings recent discussions of "epistemology of ignorance" together with classic writings in radical feminism and by feminists of color. Her article is a touchstone for contemporary anti-racist feminist epistemology. This four-year-old article is already drawing lots of attention, and we can expect to see it continue to influence feminist theory.

Sally Haslanger, “Changing the Ideology and Culture of Philosophy: Not by Reason (Alone)” 23.2 (2008): 210-223.
- It’s hard to think of a paper that has made more difference than this one to feminist organizing within philosophy – the catalyst for all kinds of new thinking and activism that brings an inclusive perspective to bear on questions about the status of women in philosophy. I share Haslangers’ rage, and can only hope that in retrospect we will see this paper as a turning point.
- This paper was a huge gift to me. It helped me deal with some ghosts of my graduate school experience. It has also sparked a lot of interest in equity issues in the profession.