Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Sex, Biological Functions and Social Norms: A Simple Constructivist Theory of Sex
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Philosophy. University of Gävle, Sweden.
Number of Authors: 1
2016 (English)In: NORA: Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research, ISSN 0803-8740, E-ISSN 1502-394X, Vol. 24, no 1, 18-29 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Feminist theory needs a constructivist account of biological sex for at least two reasons. The first is that as long as female and male are the only two sexes that are taken for granted, being cisgender, heterosexual, and preferably a parent will be the norm, and being intersexed, transgender, bi- or homosexual, infertile or voluntarily childless will be deemed failure. The second is the fact that, usually, sex and gender come together in the way that is expected, i.e. the fact that most females are women and most males are men needs to be explained. This paper provides a constructivist theory of sex, which is that the sex categories depend on norms of reproduction. I argue that, because the sex categories are defined according to the two functions or causal roles in reproduction, and biological function is a teleological concept involving purposes, goals, and values, female and male are normative categories. As there are no norms or values in nature, normative categories are social constructions; hence, female and male are not natural but social categories. Once we understand that biological normativity is social, biological norms of heterosexuality, fertility, and so on are no longer incontestable. In addition, as many gender norms also concern reproduction-socially mediated reproduction-this simple theory of sex explains the common confluence of sex and gender.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 24, no 1, 18-29 p.
Keyword [en]
Biological sex, norms of reproduction, social construction, biological function
National Category
Sociology Gender Studies Philosophy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-129649DOI: 10.1080/08038740.2015.1136681ISI: 000372106300003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-129649DiVA: diva2:924557
Available from: 2016-04-28 Created: 2016-04-26 Last updated: 2016-04-28Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

Other links

Publisher's full text

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Carlson, Åsa
By organisation
Department of Philosophy
In the same journal
NORA: Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research
SociologyGender StudiesPhilosophy

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Altmetric score

Total: 45 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link