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Philosophy and Motherhood

  • By: Sarah LaChance Adams
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Historically, when philosophers mentioned motherhood, it was generally seen as a barrier to achieving an ideal society. Motherhood was first taken seriously as a valuable subject for philosophical inquiry in the 20th century.

The two schools of thought that have taken the lead in philosophical thought on motherhood are care ethics and French feminism. Care ethics seeks to demonstrate the centrality of motherhood to creating a just and ethical society, and to understanding the true nature of the political individual. French feminists have noted how motherhood can be both detrimental to women and a positive force in the formation of their subjectivities. They emphasize that a woman's experience of motherhood is effected by historical, cultural, material, and personal situations, all of which are influenced by patriarchy. ...

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