Challenging Liberalism

Feminism as Political Critique

By (author) Lisa H. Schwartzman

Paperback - £24.95

Publication date:

15 December 2007

Length of book:

224 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271028545

Questions about the relevance and value of various liberal concepts are at the heart of important debates among feminist philosophers and social theorists. Although many feminists invoke concepts such as rights, equality, autonomy, and freedom in arguments for liberation, some attempt to avoid them, noting that they can also reinforce and perpetuate oppressive social structures.

In Challenging Liberalism Schwartzman explores the reasons why concepts such as rights and equality can sometimes reinforce oppression. She argues that certain forms of abstraction and individualism are central to liberal methodology and that these give rise to a number of problems. Drawing on the work of feminist moral, political, and legal theorists, she constructs an approach that employs these concepts, while viewing them from within a critique of social relations of power.

“In her clear and engaging book, Lisa Schwartzman argues that liberalism fails as a theory of justice because it fails to uncover and resist oppression. Drawing on the work of Catharine MacKinnon, Judith Butler, and Wendy Brown, she offers original, feminist critiques of Nussbaum, Rawls, Okin, and Dworkin. This book will be of interest to political philosophers from both liberal and feminist schools as well as legal theorists.”

—Ann E. Cudd, University of Kansas