Chapter 14: Luce Irigaray on women and natural law
Catherine Carol’s chapter considers an important but neglected topic in natural law theory: the distinctive standpoint of women in relation to natural law. Carol argues that the writings of the French feminist philosopher Luce Irigaray can be understood as offering a kind of natural law theory. Specifically, Irigaray’s theory of sexual difference highlights a neglected human value - that of generativity - that properly belongs on any list of basic human goods. Carol explores and develops the idea that generativity has been neglected because of its close alignment with women’s perspectives and social roles, which tend to be overlooked in favour of privileged male interests. Irigaray’s work, by contrast, enables us to see how men have positioned women and nature more generally as a mirror for their own selves, rather than paying them close attention in their own right. This realisation paves the way for a more embodied - and therefore more truly natural and universal - conception of natural law, in which generativity plays its proper role. This, in turn, has important implications for the content of positive law, as well as the ways in which we organise our communities.
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