PHIL 338A:  Study Questions on Topic #5:  Women's Rights



1. What is self-reinforcing paternalism?  Why is it difficult for the victims of self-reinforcing paternalism to object to it? 


2.  Give an example of an actual or historical discriminatory practice with a justification that is both self-serving and socially enforced.  Explain the example in a way that shows:  (1) what the justification is; (2) how the justification is self-serving; (3) how the justification is socially enforced. 


3. (a) What was Wollstonecraft's "Utopian dream"?  (b) Why did she regard it as simply an extension of the objections of Locke, Rousseau, and Kant to absolute monarchy?  (c) What made the positions of her opponents (including Locke, Rousseau, and Kant) paternalistic?  (d) How did she reply to their paternalistic positions?


4.  Sen has estimated that in the world there are 100,000,000 missing girls and women.  (a) Why are they missing?  (b) Based on Sen's research, what are the most effective methods for solving the problem?


5. (a) Why is the title of Tamir's article on female genital cutting (FGC) misleading?  (b) What would be a better title for it?  Explain.  Tamir believes that the practice of FGC is similar to some American practices.  (c) What practices does she think it is similar to?  Pick one of the American practices and answer the following questions:  (d) In what relevant respects are FGC and the American practice similar?  Explain.  (e) In what relevant respects are FGC and the American practice dissimilar?  Explain.


6. (a) What does it mean for a practice to be part of a social equilibrium?  (b) Explain why it is reasonable to believe that the historical practice of foot binding in China or the current practice of female genital cutting in many parts of Africa is part of a social equilibrium.


7. (a) Opponents of female genital cutting (FGC) are often accused of being paternalistic.  Why?  (b) Explain how Tostan (the group started by Molly Melching) has been able to eliminate FGC without being paternalistic.  (Or, if you think that Tostan is paternalistic, explain why.)  (c) Explain how the change produced by Tostan represents change that is bottom-up in two senses.  (In your answer you should explain the two senses of "bottom-up".)