Sally Haslanger

Note: By downloading any of the following published papers you agree that it shall be for your own personal use ONLY.  If you need it for other purposes, please contact the publisher for permission.


Persistence: Contemporary Readings. Edited by Sally Haslanger and Roxanne Marie Kurtz. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, Fall 2006).

Theorizing Feminisms: A Reader.  Edited by Elizabeth Hackett and Sally Haslanger. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).

Adoption Matters: Philosophical and Feminist Essays.  Edited by Sally Haslanger and Charlotte Witt.  (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005). 

  1. As a social and legal institution of family formation, and as a personal experience of members of the adoption triad, adoption provides a fresh vantage point on an important set of philosophical and feminist issues. The family is often thought to be the basic and natural form of social life for human beings; adoption, however, highlights the powerful role that law and politics play in shaping families and our ideas about families. As a result, attention to the practices of adoption sheds light upon deeply held, but often tacit assumptions about what is natural and what is social in human life."—from the Introduction

  2. The institution of adoption has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years as the adoption world has undergone seismic shifts: the rise in international and transracial adoptions and the effects of global economics; adoption by gays and lesbians; increasing openness in the adoption process; and changes in domestic welfare policy on adoption.

  3. Adoption Matters adds to our understanding of reproduction, parenting, and familial bonds, personal identity and self-knowledge, and contemporary social policy. The contributors to Adoption Matters explore a range of related topics, such as the manner in which interracial or international adoption affects the way we perceive the relationships among race, ethnicity, and culture and how class affects one’s life prospects and choices.


In progress:

“Family, Ancestry and Self: What is the Moral Significance of Biological Ties?”

  1. A discussion of David Velleman’s essay, “Family History” and related topics.

“Social Categories and Ideology Critique”

  1. Further discussion of the problem of ideology critique raised in Haslanger 2007 (see below), not pursuing the relativist strategy proposed there.


"Changing the Ideology and Culture of Philosophy: Not by Reason (Alone)." presented at the Central APA (April 2007) at a panel sponsored by the APA Committee on the Status of Women.  To appear in the “Musings” column, Hypatia 2008.

  1. Includes an overview of data on the representation of women authors in seven journals in philosophy (Ethics, Journal of Philosophy, Mind, Noûs, Philosophical Review, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Philosophy and Public Affairs).  See also: following the link "Materials concerning women and minorities in philosophy" for more materials on this topic.

“A Social Constructionist Analysis of Race,” in B. Koenig, S. Lee and S. Richardson, ed., Revisiting Race in the Genomic Age, Rutgers University Press, 2008.

  1. A discussion of philosophical accounts of race for a broad interdisciplinary audience including  those working in biology and medicine.  Explains the account of race I articulate in  “Gender and Race...” Haslanger 2000 (see below).  Initially presented at the Mellon Seminar, Revisiting Race and Ethnicity in the Context of Emerging Genetic Research at Stanford University (2005):

In Print:

“”But Mom, Crop-Tops Are Cute!” Social Knowledge, Social Structure and Ideology Critique,” Philosophical Issues, 17, The Metaphysics of Epistemology, 2007, pp. 70-91.

  1. If social facts are constituted by a kind of social consensus, then those whose beliefs conform with the consensus seem to have knowledge.  But how, then, can ideology critique gain an epistemic grip?  I set up the puzzle and consider whether recent relativist strategies in philosophy of language provide resources to show how social beliefs can be true relative to a milieu, and yet allow genuine disagreement between milieus.

"What Good Are Our Intuitions?  Philosophical Analysis and Social Kinds." Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume, vol. 80, no. 1 (2006): 89-118. Presented at the Joint Sessions of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association, Southampton, July 2006.

"What Are We Talking About?  The Semantics and Politics of Social Kinds." Hypatia 20:4 (Fall 2005):10-26.

  1. Theorists “analyzing” the concepts of race and gender disagree over whether the terms refer to natural kinds, social kinds, or nothing at all. The question arises what we mean by the terms, and it is usually assumed that ordinary intuitions of native speakers are definitive. I argue that contemporary semantic externalism can usefully combine with insights from Foucauldian genealogy to challenge mainstream methods of analysis and lend credibility to social constructionist projects.

"Future Genders?  Future Races?" In  Philosophic Exchange 34 (2003-4): 4-27.

To be reprinted in, Moral Issues in Global Perspective, 2nd edition, ed., Christine Koggel.  (Broadview Press, forthcoming 2005).

"Social Construction: The "Debunking" Project." In Socializing Metaphysics, ed., Frederick Schmitt.  (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield). 

  1. In his book The Social Construction of What?, Ian Hacking offers a schema for understanding different social constructionist claims along with a framework for distinguishing kinds or degrees of constructionist projects.  Hacking’s efforts are useful, but his account leaves many of the philosophical aspects of social construction projects obscure, as are the connections, if any, with more mainstream analytic philosophy projects.  My goal in this paper is to argue that although Hacking’s approach to social construction is apt for some of those working on such projects,  it does not adequately capture what’s at issue for an important range of social constructionists, particularly many of us working on gender and race.  Moreover, a different way of understanding social construction reveals interesting connections and conflicts with mainstream analytic projects.

"Oppressions: Racial and Other." In Racism, Philosophy and Mind: Philosophical Explanations of Racism and Its Implications, ed., Michael Levine and Tamas Pataki. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press). (c) Sally Haslanger, 6/18/02.

"Persistence Through Time."  In the Oxford Handbook in Metaphysics, ed. Michael Loux and Dean Zimmerman.  (Oxford: Oxford University Press).  (c) Sally Haslanger, 2/6/02.

  1. Things change: objects come into existence, last for awhile, go out of existence, move through space, change their parts, change their qualities, change in their relations to things.  All this would seem to be uncontroversial.  But philosophical attention to any of these phenomena can generate perplexity and has resulted in a number of longstanding puzzles.  This essay reviews recent attempts to account for the persistence of things through change and defends the idea that it is possible for ordinary objects to endure.  It expands on my previous work in the area by exploring how an eternalist, non-tenser who also believes in endurance, can respond to a number of criticisms attempting to show that this combination of views is untenable.

"You Mixed? Racial Identity without Racial Biology." In Adoption Matters: Philosophical and Feminist Essays, ed., Charlotte Witt and Sally Haslanger (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005).  (c) Sally Haslanger, 1/2/02.

  1. If racial categories are to be understood as positions in a social structure (as I argue in "Gender and Race: (What) Are They?..."), then in principle one can be raced without incorporating that fact into one's self-understanding.  How, then, should we understand racial identity?  I argue that a common model (suggested by Ian Hacking and developed by Anthony Appiah) that analyzes racial identity in terms of the content of one's intentions to act (e.g., as a person of race R) is inadequate to capture a broad range of unintentional and even unconscious behavior that are plausibly relevant to one's identity.  I offer an alternative proposal that takes into account unreflective, unintended, and unconscious aspects of racial embodiment.

"Gender, Patriotism, and the Events of 9/11." Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice 15:4 (2003): 457-461.

"Feminism and Metaphysics: Negotiating the Natural." In the Cambridge Companion to Feminism in Philosophy, ed., M. Fricker and J. Hornsby. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 107-126.) (pdf)

  1. Is there a place within feminist inquiry for metaphysics?  Does feminist theory have anything to offer metaphysicians?  My goal in this paper is to begin to answer these questions, with full awareness that both subject areas are too large, too multi-faceted, and too contested to capture comprehensively.  However, if we take an aporematic approach to metaphysics, then we must acknowledge that what questions we ask, and what puzzles arise in our attempts to give answers is going to be, to some significant extent, a parochial matter: it will depend on cultural and historical context, broader theoretical needs, etc.  In a social context in which sexist and racist views are widely held and institutionalized, there is a compelling need for theories that diagnose, explain, and replace the sexist and racist beliefs.  We need not suppose that these theories will be gynocentric--in the sense that they privilege a special female or feminine perspective; rather, they are feminist insofar as they engage the realities of women's oppression with the goal of ending it.   As these theories emerge, they may be relevant to metaphysics in two ways: feminist theories--including feminist moral and political theory and epistemology--may have repercussions that must be accommodated in our metaphysics; and feminist insights into the cultural/historical context of the metaphysical puzzles we consider may diffuse and/or replace them.  I go on to consider a specific set of feminist arguments concerning the social construction of nature and, more specifically, the body, and argue that the sense in which such social construction is plausible, it is compatible with a "thin" metaphysical realism.

"Gender and Race: (What) Are They? (What) Do We Want Them To Be?" Noûs 34:1 (March 2000): 31-55.

  1. This paper proposes social constructionist accounts of gender and race.  The focus of the inquiry--inquiry aiming to provide resources for feminist and antiracist projects--are the social positions of those marked for privilege or subordination by observed or imagined features assumed to be relevant to reproductive function, or geographical origins.  I develop these ideas and propose that other gendered and racialized phenomena are usefully demarcated and explained by reference to these social positions.  In doing so, I address the concern that attempts to define race or gender are misguided because they either assume a false commonality or marginalize some members of the group in question. 

"What Knowledge Is and What It Ought To Be: Feminist Values and Normative Epistemology." Philosophical Perspectives 13 (1999): 459-480.

"Ontology and Social Construction." Philosophical Topics  23:2 (Fall 1995): 95-125.

"On Being Objective and Being Objectified."  In A Mind of One's Own: Feminist Essays on Reason and Objectivity, 2nd edition.  Edited by Louise M. Antony and Charlotte E. Witt.  (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2002), pp. 209-253.  Originally published in the 1st edition, (c) 1993. 


"Comments on Sider's Four Dimensionalism." (for APA Session, Dec. 30, 2003) (c) Sally Haslanger, 1/30/04.

"Topics in Feminism." (with Nancy Tuana).  Entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  Introduction to group of entries addressing different topics in feminism. 

  1. Although there are many different and sometimes conflicting approaches to feminist philosophy, it is instructive to begin by asking what, if anything, feminists as a group are committed to. Considering some of the controversies over what feminism is provides a springboard for seeing how feminist commitments generate a host of philosophical topics, especially as those commitments confront the world as we know it.

Comments on Charles Mills' "Race and the Social Contract Tradition." Presented at the Central APA, April 22, 2000.  (c) Sally Haslanger, 4/22/00.

"Feminism and Metaphysics: Unmasking Hidden Ontologies."  Published in the APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy, spring 2000. (c) Sally Haslanger, 5/1/00.

last updated: 13 July 2007.