26030 - Woman And Social Sciences

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2017/2018

Learning outcomes

The student possesses specific knowledge of social sciences within a feminist perspective.

Course contents

The program of the course is divided in two parts. 1. In the first part one will discuss the contents of the theories on multiculturalism and the main theories on cultural relativism. 2. In the second part one will discuss the main theories on the objectivity of practical judgments (moral and legal). In both parts some lessons will be devoted to the relationship between multiculturalism and feminismIn. In the first part the lectures will be delivered by Prof. Gustavo Gozzi.

1.1. The theories on multiculturalism refer to those societies where there are stable cultural communities that are able to perpetuate themselves. First of all the multiculturalism declares that the guarantee of individual rights depends on a full membership in a respected cultural group.Secondly multiculturalism emphasizes the belief in a value pluralism and in the validity of the diverse values embodied in the practices of different groups. But it is necessary to consider the limits of the acceptance of practices that are in contrast with the principles of the constitutional order that is the ground of the coexistence of the different cultural communities. Moreover the customs and practices of the different groups should be recognized in the law of the State. Finally the multiculturalism requires the existence of a common culture, the culture of "mutual recognition".

1.2. The relativism goes back to Protagora's doctrine, that we mainly know through the criticism expressed by Plato and Aristoteles. We can distinguish a relativism that concerns the facts and a relativism that concerns the values. The first meaning of relativism - about facts -can refer either to criteria on the ground of which a proposition can be considered true, or to the patterns of thought that permit the representation of things (for instance the formulas of chemistry). The second meaning of relativism - about values - can refer either to the relationships between values and social practices, or to the different kinds of cultural realities (actions, histories institutions, practices and so on). To this second meaning of relativism belongs also the relativism as the philosophy of the constitutional multicultural democracy.

2. The objectivity of practical judgments refers to the possibility of identifying some requirements that determine their truth or reasonableness. This analysis requires the preliminary clarification of the field in which this research takes place and, in particular, whether it is in the dimension of meta-ethics or in normative ethics, and if you refer to a notion of ontological or epistemic objectivity. On this basis, we will analyze the main contemporary theories of objectivity: moral realism (natural and non-natural); constructivism (Kantian and not); the expressivism; moral normativity and language from Wittgenstein to Searle; the discourse ethics of Apel and Habermas.


The students that will attend the lectures have to prepare 2 books. They will choose one book in the parts A.1 or A.2 and one in the part B.

The students that will not attend the lectures have to study 3 books. They will choose one book in the parts A.1 or A.2 and one in the part B. They will choose freely the third book.

A. 1. Bibliography on multiculturalism:

G. Baumann, The multicultural riddle, New York: Routledge, 1999.

S. Benhabib, The rights of others, Cambridge University Press, 2004.

P. Berger, G. Davie, E. Fokas, Religious America, Secular Europe?, Aldershot, Ashgate, 2008.

R. Dworkin, Taking rights seriously, London: Duckworth, 1977.

R. Dworkin, Freedom's Law, Oxford 1999.

D.T. Goldberg (ed.), Multiculturalism, Blackwell, 1995.

S. Huntington, Who are we?, 2004.

K. Marx, Critica del programma di Gotha, Milano, Feltrinelli, 1968.

W. Mignolo, Who speaks for the "human" in Human Rights?, in "Hispanic Issues on line", 5.1 (2009).

J.S.Mill, Utilitarianism, Liberty, Representative government, London : Dent ; New York : Dutton, 1964

M. Nussbaum, Cultivating Humanity, 1997.

S.M. Okin, Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women? ed. by J. Cohen, M. Howard, M.C. Nussbaum. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999.

J. Raz, Multiculturalism: a Liberal Perspective, in “Dissent”, 1994.

A. Sen, Inequality reexamined, Oxford University Press, 1999.

A. Sen, Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2006).

A. Sen, The idea of justice, London, Allen Lane, 2009.

B. de Sousa Santos, Toward a multicultural Conception oh Human Rights, in “Sociologia del diritto”, 1/1997.

Ch. Taylor, Multiculturalism, Princeton University Press 1994.

E. Tourme-Jouannet, What is a Fair International Society?, Oxford and Portland, Hart Publishing, 2013.

J. Tully, Strange Multiplicity, Cambridge University Press, 1997.

M. Walzer, Spheres of Justice: A Defense of Pluralism and Equality (New York: Basic Books, 1983).

M. Walzer, On Toleration, 1997.

A. 2. Bibliography on relativism:

J.-M. Barreto (ed. by), Human Rights from a Third World Perspective: Critique, History and International Law,

Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012.

S. Benhabib, The claims of culture, Princeton University Press, 2002.

E. De Martino, The Land of Remorse: A Study of Southern Italian Tarantism, Free Association Books, 2005.

G. Devereux, Ethno-psychoanalysis: psychoanalysis and anthropology as complementary frames of reference, University of California Press, Berkeley 1978.

P. Feyerabend, Farewell to reason, London - New York 1987.

C. Geertz, The interpretation of cultures, New York 1973.

C. Geertz, After the Facts. Two Countries, Four Decades, One Anthropologist, Cambridge, Mass., 1995.

H. Kelsen, Foundations of democracy, in "Ethics", vol. LXVI, 1955.

J. Kristeva, Strangers to Ourselves, trans. Leon S. Roudiez (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991).

J. Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), Oxford University Press, 1975.

D. Marconi. Per la verità. Relativismo e filosofia, Torino, Einaudi, 2007.

J. Margolis, The Truth about relativism, Oxford (UK) - Cambridge (Usa), Blackwell, 1981.

Plato's Theory of Knowledge: The Theaetetus and the Sofist of Plato, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1935.

F. Remotti, Contro natura, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2008.

M. Sahlins, The Western Illusion of Human Nature, 2008.

B. de Sousa Santos, Another Knowledge is Possible. Beyond Northern Epistemologies, London-New York 2008.

B.de Sousa Santos, Epistemologies of the South. Justice against epistemicide, London, Boulder, 2014.

P. Winch, The idea of social science and its relations to philosophy, London 1958.

L. Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, Blackwell, 1953.

B. Bibliography on Objectivity

C. Bagnoli (ed.), Constructivism in Ethics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013

P. Boghossian, Fear of Knowledge, Oxford: Clarendon, 2006

J. Dancy,): Ethics without Principles, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004

R. Dworkin, Justice for Hedgehogs, Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknapp Press of Harvard University Press, 2011

J. Habermas, Truth and Justification, Cambridge, Mass.: The Mit Press, 2003

J. Habermas, The Inclusion of Others, Cambridge, Mass.: The Mit Press, 1998

B. Leiter (ed.), Objectivity in Law and Morals, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001

J. Lenman, Y. Shemmer (edd.), Constructivism in Practical Philosophy, Oxford: Oxford Univerity Press 2012.

S.M. Okin, Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women? ed. by J. Cohen, M. Howard, M.C. Nussbaum. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999.

H. Putnam, Ethics Without Ontology, Cambridge (Mass.): Harvard University Press, 2004

J. Rawls, Kantian Constructivism in Moral Theory: “The Journal of Philosophy”, n. 9, vol. 77, 1980

W.D. Ross, The Right and the Good, Oxford: Clarendon, 2002 (Ed. by Philip Stratton-Lake)

R. Shafer-Landau, Moral Realism. A Defence, Oxford: Clarendon, 2003

S. Street, Constructivism about Reasons, in "Oxford Studies in Metaethics" 3, 2008

L. Wittgenstein, On Certainty, London: Basil Blackwell, 1969 (or other edition)

Teaching methods

The teaching is delivered on the basis of lectures, but the training of the students is facilitated by continuous discussions during the class time.Also the didactic documents provided by the professor help to favor the learning on the part of the students.

Assessment methods

At the end of the course there will be an oral examination.

The students that will attend the course will have an oral exam on two textbooks. The students that will not attend the course will have an oral exam on three textbooks.

Teaching tools

The students will receive documents useful for the lectures and suggestions about links in the web.

Office hours

See the website of Giorgio Bongiovanni