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Western moral and political theorists have recently devoted considerable attention to the perceived victimization of women by Non-western cultures. In this paper, I argue that conceiving injustice to poor women in poor countries primarily as a matter of their oppression by illiberal cultures presents an understanding of their situation that is crucially incomplete. This incomplete understanding distorts Western theorists comprehension of our moral relationship to women elsewhere in the world and so of our theoretical task. It also impoverishes our assumptions about the intercultural dialogue necessary to promote global justice for women.
The philosophical question of moral justification inquires how substantive moral assertions - claims that particular actions or practices are right or wrong, permissible or impermissible - may be confirmed or disconfirmed. This question has always been central in western moral philosophy and it holds special significance for feminism, which is defined by its moral opposition to male dominance. Feminists need some means of establishing that their critiques of those actions, practices and institutions that rationalize or maintain male dominance are not merely personal opinions but instead are objectively justified.
This chapter discusses some recent feminist contributions to the philosophical debate about moral justification. Part 1 traces feminist engagements with four major moral theorists of the twentieth century, and part 2 makes explicit several common themes running through those feminist critiques. Part 3 outlines some elements of an alternative feminist approach to moral justification, informed by the earlier critiques. Part 4 offers some feminist reflections on the project of providing a philosophical account of moral justification, suggesting that philosophers' claims to authority in defining moral justification may themselves constitute practice of dominance.