PH333      Half Unit
Philosophy of Gender and Race

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Johanna Thoma LAK 4.02, Dr Liam Kofi Bright LAK 2.05 and Dr Jonathan Birch LAK 4.05


This course is available on the BSc in Philosophy and Economics, BSc in Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method, BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and BSc in Politics and Philosophy. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.



Course content

This half-unit examines, from a philosophical perspective, the nature of gender and race and the role these categories play in shaping the social world and structuring human lives.

Topics covered will include:

Concepts of Sex, Gender and Race: How does “gender” relate to “sex”? Is race a biological category, a social category, both, or neither? What influence do these categories have on human behaviour?

Gender and the Brain: Are gender categories biological or social? Are there psychological differences between men and women? If so, are they explained by genes or by culture? Is gender 'hardwired' into the brain or the product of socialization?

Gender and Society: What are misogyny and sexism? Is sexism inherent to the entire concept of gender? Are gender differences compatible with a fair society, or should we try to eliminate gender altogether?

Race and the Genome: Do races exist at all? Is there any objective biological basis for racial categorization, or are races socially constructed? Does the concept of “race” still have a legitimate role in medicine?

Race and Society: How does the social meaning of “race” vary around the world? How have concepts of race been shaped by racism? Should we try to reclaim the “race” concept for anti-racist goals or try to eliminate it from public discourse?

The Future of Gender and Race: Will race and gender still exist in the future? Should we try to work for a race-free and gender-free world, or should these ways or classifying people be preserved?

We will focus on approaches to these questions from “analytic” philosophy, including feminist approaches and approaches from the philosophy of science. The aim is to confront the big questions of gender and race by analysing and constructing careful and precise philosophical arguments.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 exercise in the LT.

Indicative reading

Suggested introductory reading:

Fine, Cordelia, 2008. Delusions of Gender.

Manne, Kate, 2017. Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny.

Appiah, Kwame Anthony, 2005. The Ethics of Identity.

Glasgow, J., Haslanger, S., Jeffers, C. and Spencer, Q., 2019. What is Race?

Zack, Naomi, 1993. Race and Mixed-Race.

Appiah, Kwame Anthony, and Gutmann, Amy, 1996. Color Conscious: The Political Morality of Race.


Essay (45%, 1500 words) in the LT.
Essay (45%, 1500 words) in the ST.
Class participation (10%).

There is no exam for this half-unit. There will be two summative essays, each worth 45% of the final mark. 10% of the final mark will be awarded for class participation.

Key facts

Department: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method

Total students 2018/19: Unavailable

Average class size 2018/19: Unavailable

Capped 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills