The Ethics of Gender

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Susan Parson's new book explores a dimension of human life that has proven to be troublesome in understanding ourselves and disturbing in social relationships and structures. That dimension is gender. The Ethics of Gender investigates the impact of thinking with gender on modern ethics, and considers the insights that postmodern gender theory might bring to the ethical project. Following Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's suggestion of the discursive incoherence of gender, the author follows the fault lines of modern humanism that are opened up by the gender critique, in relation to embodiment, subjectivity, and agency. The book investigates the effort to sustain humanism by means of an ethics of difference, of relationality, and of revaluation of nature, in such writers as Martha Nussbaum, Daphne Hampson, Lisa Sowle Cahill, Grace Jantzen, and Luce Irigaray. The central thrust of the book is, however, to understand these as echoes of the Nietzschean cry for redemption, and thus as signs of the failure of post-Enlightenment ethical thinking. With the help of Judith Butler's analyses of coming to matter, of subjection, and of performativity, the book concludes with the possibility of another way of self-understanding and of renewal in theological ethics for our time.