Marilyn Friedman was born and raised in the city of Chicago. She was born in 1945 and graduated from high school in 1962. Her parents were poorly educated, working class Jewish immigrants. During elementary school, she was part of a tiny Jewish minority in a Protestant neighborhood. Marilyn's post-secondary education began in 1962 and ended in 1974. She received an A.B. in political science from Washington University in St. Louis (1967) and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada (1974).
Marilyn's full-time teaching career began in 1973 with a four-year stint at Denison University. Since then, she has taught at the University of Western Ontario, Purdue University, Bowling Green State University, and, now, Washington University in St. Louis, where she has been teaching since 1991. Over the years, she has: lived in Canada for a decade (having moved there in 1968 for political reasons), earned several research fellowships, directed a Women's Studies Program, married and divorced one husband, and helped to build a 37' cutter (not necessarily in that order).
Due to her fragmented lifestyle, Marilyn did not publish anything for the first ten years of her teaching career. As a result, she was reduced to a string of temporary academic appointments, some of them part-time, and did not gain tenure until 1993--twenty years after she first began teaching. She is now remarried, to the philosopher, Larry May, and has a daughter, Elizabeth. Marilyn thinks of her life today as dedicated to four "Fs": family, friendship, feminism, and filosophy.
Marilyn Friedman's scholarship has explored such topics as: the nature of close interpersonal relationships, women in poverty, care and justice, partiality and impartiality, autonomy, gender identity, and multicultural education.
Marilyn has defended a moral framework that treats concerns of care and justice as being mutually relevant and interdependent. She has argued (to no avail) that women on welfare with young dependent children should have the option of receiving social support without having to work outside the home. She has defended the early second-wave distinction between sex and gender against recent feminist critics who argue that sex is as much a social construct as gender.
Marilyn's book What Are Friends For?: Feminist Perspectives on Personal Relationships and Moral Theory brings together a number of themes in her writing that pertain to personal relationships. Here, she argues, for example, that people are not capable in practice of taking up, on their own, an impartial standpoint in which they disregard their own particular needs and concerns. Instead, impartiality should be reconceptualized as the absence of relevant biases. The method for realizing this standard in moral discourse is moral dialogue among a community of interlocutors who can recognize and correct the biases in each other's views that individuals are not able to detect in their own views.
In her book, she also cautions against an unqualified defense of partiality in human relationships, arguing that it reinforces the unequal global distribution of resources for caring for loved ones. In addition, she criticizes communitarian theories for their uncritical attitude toward traditional communal practices that supported the subordination of women. She draws attention to the importance of voluntary communities, in contrast to those in which we participate involuntarily due to the contingencies of our upbringings. Finally, Marilyn defends friendship as a relationship that can promote personal growth and sustain groups that seek social change.
Marilyn is less uncomfortable with liberal philosophy than are many other feminists. She believes that autonomy and rights are crucial ideals that can be refashioned to apply to women's circumstances in order to diminish their oppression and social subordination. She believes that the individualism of liberalism should not be entirely abandonned in the move toward taking account of what social relationships contribute to individual development. An emphasis on women's individual selves is theoretically important for several reasons: (1) women need to be able to exercise agency and understand themselves as effective agents even when they are alone; (2) women need to be able to resist the control of oppressive communities and relationships; and (3) the fullest recognition of diversity among women ultimately reduces to recognition of individual women. These concerns mark Marilyn's current research.
In her feminist scholarship, Marilyn aims to reach the wide audience of mainstream philosophers in addition to that of feminist theorists. She has not abandonned the analytic methods of reflection and justification that were part of her philosophical education but rather redirected them toward the study of issues with feminist significance.
Marilyn's current research project is tentatively entitled Autonomy and Love in Gender and Politics. It endorses but attempts to complicate the feminist project of reconceptualizing autonomy in relational terms. Marilyn argues that relational accounts of autonomy need to recognize the importance of female individuality and the occasional social disruptiveness of autonomy. Part of Marilyn's project investigates the effects on women's autonomy of the experience of domestic abuse from intimate partners. Together with a sociologist and a community volunteer in the field of domestic violence, Marilyn is currently designing an empirical research project to survey women who seek Orders of Protection against abusive partners. This sub-project will explore ways in which the legal system supports or thwarts the efforts of such women in their attempts to take autonomous control of their lives.
Political Correctness: For and Against. (Co-authored with Jan Narveson). Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1995. [Portions reprinted as: "Of Mothers and Families, Men and Sex: The Truth About Feminism," in In the Company of Others: Perspectives on Community, Family and Culture. Nancy Snow, Ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1996.
What Are Friends For?: Feminist Perspectives on Personal Relationships and Moral Theory. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993.
Care and Context in Moral Reasoning, MOSAIC Monograph #1, Bath, England: University of Bath, 1985. (26 pages) [Revised and reprinted in Women and Moral Theory. Eva Kittay and Diana T. Meyers, Eds. Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1987; pp. 190-204.
Mind and Morals: Essays on Ethics and Cognitive Science. (Co-edited with Larry May and Andy Clark). Cambridge, Mass.: Bradford/MIT Press, 1995.
Feminism and Community. (Co-edited with Penny Weiss). Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995.
"Feminist Ethics and Conceptions of Autonomy." In: Cambridge Companion to Feminism in Philosophy. Miranda Fricker and Jennifer Hornsby, eds., Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, forthcoming.
"Romantic Love and Personal Autonomy." Midwest Studies in Philosophy, Volume XXII, forthcoming.
"John Rawls and the Political Coercion of Unreasonable People." In: Reading Political Liberalism. Victoria Davion and Clark Wolf, eds. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, forthcoming.
"Autonomy, Social Disruption, and Women." In: Relational Autonomy: Feminist Perspectives on Autonomy, Agency and the Social Self. Natalie Stoljar and Catriona Mackenzie, eds. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, forthcoming.
"Racism: Paradigms and Moral Appraisal (A Response to Blum)." In: Philosophy and Racism. Susan Babbitt and Sue Campbell, eds. Ithaca: Cornell, forthcoming.
"Feminism, Autonomy, and Emotion." In: Norms and Values: Essays in Honor of Virginia Held. Joram Graf Haber and Mark Halfon, eds., Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, forthcoming.
"Feminism and Impartiality." In: The Companion to Feminist Philosophy. Alison Jaggar and Iris Marion Young, eds., Oxford: Blackwell, 1998; pp. 393-401.
"Autonomy and Personal Relationships: Rethinking the Feminist Critique." In: Feminists Rethink the Self. Diana T. Meyers, ed., Boulder, CO: Westview, 1997; pp. 40-61.
"The Unholy Alliance of Sex and Gender." Metaphilosophy, Volume 27, Nos. 1 & 2 (January/April 1996), pp. 78-91.
"Women's Autonomy and Feminist Aspirations." Journal of Philosophical Research, Volume XXI (1996), pp. 331-340.
"Feminist Ethics and Multicultural Education," Hypatia, Volume 10, No. 2 (Spring 1995), pp. 56-68.
"Partiality." In: Encyclopedia of Ethics. Lawrence Becker, ed., and Charlotte Becker, assoc. ed., New York: Garland Publishing, 1992; pp. 928-931.
"The Practice of Partiality." Ethics, Volume 101, No. 4 (July 1991), pp.818-835.
"The Social Self and the Partiality Debates." In: Feminist Ethics. Claudia Card, ed. Lawrence, KS: Univ. Press of Kansas, 1991; pp.161-179.
"Going Nowhere: Nagel on Normative Objectivity," Philosophy, Volume 65, No. 254 (October 1990), pp.501-509.
"The Impracticality of Impartiality," Journal of Philosophy, Volume LXXXVI, No. 11 (November 1989), pp.645-656.
"They Lived Happily Ever After": Sommers on Women and Marriage," Journal of Social Philosophy, Volume XXI, Nos. 2 & 3 (Fall/Winter 1989), pp.57-65.
"Does Sommers Like Women?: More on Liberalism, Gender Hierarchy, and Scarlett O'Hara," Journal of Social Philosophy, Volume XXI, Nos. 2 & 3 (Fall/Winter 1989), pp.75-90.
"Feminism and Modern Friendship: Dislocating the Community," Ethics, Volume 99, No. 2 (January 1989), pp.275-290.
"Friendship and Moral Growth," Journal of Value Inquiry, Volume 33, No. 1 (1989), pp.3-13.
"Autonomy in Social Context." In: Freedom, Equality, and Social Change. James Sterba and Creighton Peden, eds. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1989; pp.158-169.
"Welfare Cuts and the Ascendance of Market Patriarchy," Hypatia, Volume 13, No. 2 (Summer 1988), pp.145-149.
"Beyond Caring: The DečMoralization of Gender." In: Science, Morality and Feminist Theory. Supplementary Volume 13 (1987) of the Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Marsha Hanen and Kai Nielsen, eds., pp.87-110.
"Autonomy and the Split-Level Self," Southern Journal of Philosophy, Volume XXIV, No. 1 (1986), pp.19-35.
"Commentary on Meir Tamari's `Economics and the Marketplace in the Jewish Tradition'." In: Religion, Economics, and Social Thought. Walter Block and Irving Hexham, Eds. Vancouver: The Fraser Institute, 1986; pp.421-430.
"Corporate Rights to Free Speech," (co-authored with Larry May) The Business and Professional Ethics Journal, Volume 5, Nos. 3 & 4 (1986), pp.5-22.
"Women in Poverty and Welfare Equity," Logos, Volume 6 (1985), pp.91-104.
"Harming Women as a Group," (co-authored with Larry May) Social Theory and Practice, Volume 11, No. 2 (Summer 1985), pp.207-234.
"Moral Integrity and the Deferential Wife," Philosophical Studies, Volume 47 (1985), pp.141-150.
"University Education, The Community and Women's Studies," The Educational Forum, Volume XLVIII, Number 3 (Spring 1984), pp.313-326.
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