© 2006 – Routledge
Poststructuralism, particularly through the writings of Michel Foucault and Judith Butler, has achieved remarkable success in challenging our belief in natural sex categories and instincts. Here, Carrie Hull endorses the progressive ideals of poststructuralism while demonstrating the superiority of a realist account of sex and sexuality. Embracing biological and cultural variability, Hull nonetheless shows that the sexed body is naturally structured and deeply meaningful.
Poststructuralist philosophers have argued that biological sex is a continuum rather than a binary, and that sex identity and drive are entirely performances of cultural norms rather than expressions of innate qualities. Hull draws parallels with Nelson Goodman, W.V.O. Quine, and B.F. Skinner to show that these poststructuralist theories are rooted in a nominalist, relativist, and behaviourist philosophy, and develops an alternative framework using arguments from contemporary and critical realism.
Employing colourful illustrations from biology, anthropology and psychology, Hull demonstrates the rich potential of realist philosophy, and concludes that it is philosophically and scientifically correct, on one hand, and politically advisable, on the other, to maintain a distinction - albeit attenuated - between sex and gender, and sexuality and behaviour.
Critical Realism is a broad movement within philosophy and social science. It is a movement that began in British philosophy and sociology following the founding work of Roy Bhaskar, Margaret Archer and others. Critical Realism emerged from the desire to realise an adequate realist philosophy of science, social science, and of critique. Against empiricism, positivism and various idealisms (interpretivism, radical social constructionism), Critical Realism argues for the necessity of ontology. The pursuit of ontology is the attempt to understand and say something about ‘the things themselves’ and not simply about our beliefs, experiences, or our current knowledge and understanding of those things. Critical Realism also argues against the implicit ontology of the empiricists and idealists of events and regularities, reducing reality to thought, language, belief, custom, or experience. Instead Critical Realism advocates a structural realist and causal powers approach to natural and social ontology, with a focus upon social relations and process of social transformation.
Important movements within Critical Realism include the morphogenetic approach developed by Margaret Archer; Critical Realist economics developed by Tony Lawson; as well as dialectical Critical Realism (embracing being, becoming and absence) and the philosophy of metaReality (emphasising priority of the non-dual) developed by Roy Bhaskar.
For over thirty years, Routledge has been closely associated with Critical Realism and, in particular, the work of Roy Bhaskar, publishing well over fifty works in, or informed by, Critical Realism (in series including Critical Realism: Interventions; Ontological Explorations; New Studies in Critical Realism and Education). These have all now been brought together under one series dedicated to Critical Realism.
The Centre for Critical Realism is the advisory editorial board for the series. If you would like to know more about the Centre for Critical Realism, or to submit a book proposal, please visit www.centreforcriticalrealism.com.