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By Dirk J. Struik

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2 I use morality in the sociological sense to refer to the totality of rules, codes, values and norms which are used to justify behaviour by labelling it ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Seen in this light, feminism without morality is inconceivable. Like every other social and political movement, feminism has its judgements, objectives, collective modes of behaviour and principles. These are inscribed in feminist knowledge practices and thereby in the issues, theories and methodologies of women’s studies. I start from the premiss that every knowledge practice embodies normative elements and normative objectives.

On balance, my judgement is positive, though without any plea for the ethics of care to be granted a superior status in the practice of ethics. The forming of moral judgements should be seen as a complex task, rather than a stroll through a supermarket, where a pre-packaged moral idiom can be picked off the shelf. To use a medical metaphor, there is no simple prescription for the treatment of moral experiences. My route to this book This book reflects the gradual strengthening of my opinion on the ethics of care and my increasing acceptance of it.

It contains terms and rules for speaking which are not easy to change, but which can certainly have far-reaching consequences for the distribution of resources and social positions, for the way in which authoritative ‘social diagnoses’ come about, and for the speaking positions from which this happens. The law is, to use the British sociologist Carol Smart’s term, an important discursive apparatus and, notable in this context, a ‘gendering machine’ (Smart 1992, 1995). An analysis in terms of power, discourse and gender makes it possible to assess political and legal texts for their inclusionary and exclusionary effect, analysing which and whose perspective can be expressed and with which normative message.

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A Concise History of Mathematics Volume 1 by Dirk J. Struik


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