- 東京女子大学紀要論集 (ISSN:04934350)
- vol.44, no.1, pp.123-142, 1993-09-20
Feminist criticisms in social sciences have challenged the traditional disciplines in two ways. On one hand, some works focus on the absence of women or the "malestream" orientation in the disciplines, and then go on to ask how they should change in order to include women on an equal basis with men. On the other hand, some focus more immediately on how the gendered structure of the societies has shaped their ideas and arguments, and consider how these ideas and arguments are affected by the adoption of a feminist perspective. In this paper, giving heed to the second project, I shall focus on a major political philosopher, John Rawls, in thinking about social justice. John Rawls's A Theory of Justice has provided an impetus to much of contemporary political and moral theory. I focus here on the effects of assumptions about gender on central aspects of the theory, and consider how his assumptions about the division of labor between the sexes, with women taking care of the sphere of human nuturance, have a fundamental effect upon his accounts of moral subjects and the development of moral thinking. This is exemplified in his tendencies to separate reason from feeling and to require that moral subjects be abstracted from the contingencies of actual human life, in his deliberations. The way Rawls presents his theory of justice reflects the Kantian heritage. That is, it reflects Kant's stress on autonomy and rationality as the defining characteristics of moral subjects, his rigid separation of reason from feeling, and refusal to allow feeling any place in the formulation of moral principles. This Kantian heritage leaves Rawls's theory open to two feminist criticisms: that it involves egoistic assumptions about human nature and that it is of little relevance to actual people thinking about justice. Therefore, his theory is often viewed as excessively rationalistic, inividualistic, and abstracted from real human beings. However, at its center, Rawls's theory much includes the implications of responsibility, care, and concern for others. I shall attempt to develop an approach to social justice, which centers on a reinterpretation of his central concept, the "original position." At the same time, in a sense, this paper is a critique of Rawls. In line with a long tradition of political and moral philosophers including Rousseau, Hegel, and Tocqueville, he regards the family as a school of morality, a primary socializer of just citizens. But along with others in the tradition, he also neglects the issue of the justice or injustice of the gendered family itself. This tension within the theory can be resolved by opening up the question of justice within the family.