Fallacies for feminist philosophers

Can you share a favorite case of a fallacy-for-feminist-philosophers?  Or add something to the tentative discussion below of the ‘second kind’ of fallacy?  If so, please join in with a comment.

There are lots of times when a good fallacy comes in handy.  Critical thinking classes are one, but in most philosophy classes I  teach, it’s necessary at some point to discuss a fallacy and often to go a bit more generally into fallacies and fallacious reasoning.  I assume others find this true.

There are two kinds of examples of fallacies for feminists that I can think of.  One kind is a perfectly ordinary, standard kind of fallacy, but the specific example illustrates a  feminist point.   The other kind includes the fallacies that show up in reasoning about women (and sometimes others), but which may not have a standard name. 

For example, I think this post is concerned  with a common fallacy-of-composition-PLUS-fallacy-of-equivocation that is rampant in science popularizations.   It would be great to have a name for  it.   Maureen Dowd’s recent piece on Hillary Clinton –  discussed in an earlier piece today –  is an extended use of a fallacy that is showing up a lot in conservative writing about HC, and in some more liberal writers too.  And, of course, it’s applied to lots of other women.  It might  be  nice to be able to say when one hears this stuff, “Well, that’s just the same old fallacy of X.”

Supposing it’s true that these last two cases don’t have names and should, I’ll suggest a candidate for each.   Please bring in alternatives if you want.

For the first: The fallacy of cognitive displacement.  E.g., assuming women think with their ovaries.

For the second:  The fallacy of gendered projection:  E.g., assuming that one’s problems with powerful women reveal important facets of other people.

(I’m not completely happy with either of these; the second seems particularly hard to name.)

If we start to find enough of these unnamed fallacies,  we could adapt a recommendation of Calypso’s and call them the  fallacies of pernicious effect.  The effect being at least the further spreading of sexist attitudes.

Please add anything you like!

5 thoughts on “Fallacies for feminist philosophers

  1. <a href=http://www.answers.com/ad+hominem?cat=biz-fin]This dictionary definition has a few interesting sentences in its “usage note”:

    A modern coinage patterned on ad hominem is ad feminam, as in “Its treatment of Nabokov and its ad feminam attack on his wife Vera often border on character assassination” (Simon Karlinsky). Though some would argue that this neologism is unnecessary because the Latin word homo refers to humans generically, rather than to the male sex, in some contexts ad feminam has a more specific meaning than ad hominem, being used to describe attacks on women as women or because they are women, as in “Their recourse … to ad feminam attacks evidences the chilly climate for women’s leadership on campus” (Donna M. Riley).

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