Susan Moller Okin

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Susan Moller Okin
Born (1946-07-19)July 19, 1946
Auckland, New Zealand
Died March 3, 2004(2004-03-03) (aged 57)
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Auckland

University of Oxford

Harvard University
Notable work Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?
Main interests
Feminist political philosophy

Susan Moller Okin (July 19, 1946 – March 3, 2004),[1] was a liberal feminist political philosopher and author.


In 1979 she published Women in Western Political Thought, in which she details the history of the perceptions of women in western political philosophy.

Her 1989 book Justice, Gender, and the Family is a critique of modern theories of justice. These theories include the liberalism of John Rawls, the libertarianism of Robert Nozick, and the communitarianism of Alasdair MacIntyre and Michael Walzer. For each theorist's major work she argues that a foundational assumption is incorrect because of a faulty perception of gender or family relations. More broadly, according to Okin, these theorists write from a male perspective that wrongly assumes that the institution of the family is just. She believes that the family perpetuates gender inequalities throughout all of society, particularly because children acquire their values and ideas in the family's sexist setting, then grow up to enact these ideas as adults. If a theory of justice is to be complete, Okin asserts that it must include women and it must address the gender inequalities she believes are prevalent in modern-day families.

In 1993, with Jane Mansbridge, she summarized much of her own and others' work in the article on "Feminism," in Robert E. Goodin and Philip Petit, eds., A Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy, 269-290, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993), and the next year, also with Mansbridge, published a two-volume collection of feminist writing, entitled Feminism (schools of thought in politics).[Aldershot, England and Brookfield, Vermont, USA: E. Elgar. ISBN 9781852785659].

In her 1999 essay, later expanded into an anthology, "Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?" Okin argues that a concern for the preservation of cultural diversity should not overshadow the discriminatory nature of gender roles in many traditional minority cultures, that, at the very least, "culture" should not be used as an excuse for rolling back the women's rights movement.

Early life

Okin was born in 1946 in Auckland, New Zealand.


She earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Auckland in 1967, a master of philosophy degree from Oxford in 1970 and a doctorate from Harvard in 1975.


She taught at the University of Auckland, Vassar, Brandeis and Harvard before joining Stanford's faculty.

Okin became the Marta Sutton Weeks Professor of Ethics in Society at Stanford University in 1990.

Okin held a visiting professorship at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at the time of her death in 2004.


Okin was found dead in her home in Lincoln, Massachusetts on March 3rd, 2004. She was 57 years old. The cause of death is still unknown, but authorities do not believe there was any foul play.

Selected bibliography


  • Okin, Susan Moller (1979). Women in Western political thought. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691021911.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Okin, Susan Moller (1989). Justice, gender, and the family. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 9780465037032.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Okin, Susan Moller; Mansbridge, Jane (1994). Feminism. Schools of Thought in Politics. Aldershot, England Brookfield, Vermont, USA: E. Elgar. ISBN 9781852785659.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Okin, Susan Moller; Nussbaum, Martha; Cohen, Joshua; Howard, Matthew (1999). Is multiculturalism bad for women?. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691004327.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Originally an essay (pdf).

Chapters in books

Journal articles

See also: Jaggar, Alison M. (July 2015). "On Susan Moller Okin's "Reason and feeling in thinking about justice"". Ethics. Chicago Journals via JSTOR. 125 (4): 1132–1135. doi:10.1086/680879. JSTOR 10.1086/680879.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

See also



  • Debra Satz and Rob Reich, Toward a Humanist Justice: The Political Philosophy of Susan Moller Okin (Oxford, 2009).