Sapientia Lecture Series

Dartmouth Events

Sapientia Lecture Series

Robin Dembroff (Yale). "Oppressive Categories" Free & Open to All. Reception Follows.

Friday, February 23, 2018
103 Thornton Hall
Intended Audience(s): Public
Categories: Lectures & Seminars


Who can justly demand social recognition as a woman? as disabled? as black? When attempting to answer these and similar questions, I argue that it is a mistake to turn to questions about who in fact belongs to these categories. Socially significant categories often are unjust with respect to the grounds for category membership, as well as the social position of category members. Call these 'oppressive categories'. Oppressive categories show that what features ought to determine category membership can come apart from the features that do determine that membership. After developing a framework for understanding oppressive categories, I discuss central upshots of this framework: it provides tools for analyzing cases in which non-members can justly claim social recognition as category members, as well as tools for dissolving tensions between feminist movements emphasizing gender equality and those emphasizing transgender rights.

Robin Dembroff is assistant professor of Philosophy at Yale. Dembroff's primary areas of research are feminist philosophy and metaphysics, with a particular emphasis on social construction and the relationship between social categories, concepts, and language. They received their Ph.D. in philosophy from Pinceton and their M.A. from the University of Notre Dame. Read more about them here (

Co-Sponsored by the Leslie Center for the Humanities and the Mark J. Byrne 1985 Fund in Philosophy.

For more information, contact:
Marcia Welsh
(603) 646-3738

Events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.