Making Sense of Morality: Liberation, Feminist, and Queer Ethics

Various ethics terms
Image by Mary Pahlke from Pixabay


In this essay, I will survey key points of three theories that have been deeply shaped by critical theory (CT). I will try to draw out their ethical implications. In the next essay, I will assess CT.

Liberation Theology

The first is liberation theology. We will explore it through the teachings of the Catholic theologian Gustavo Gutiérrez (b. 1928). His ideas have been widely influential in Latin America and the west.

Feminist Ethics of Welch and Harrison

There are varieties of feminist thought, but here I will look at two exemplars, Sharon Welch and Bev Harrison. For them, feminism follows CT in some key ways. First, feminist thought assumes the dynamic of oppression by oppressors. Second, it rejects many dualisms, such as of body and soul. Third, it stresses embodied, situated particulars in a historicist epistemology. Fourth, it rejects universals and essential natures.

Gender Studies and Queer Theory

Gender studies focuses on embodied particulars and historically situated knowledge. The American Psychological Association defines gender as “the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for boys and men or girls and women.” Gender identity is an interpretation of oneself as a particular individual, without reference to universals or essences. Yet, it is not separated from groups, and these in turn are tied to oppression.

For Further Reading

Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity

Professor of ethics, philosophy of religion @ Biola's MA Christian Apologetics. Interests: ethics, knowledge, nominalism, & how Christians have been naturalized