Criticism and Impact
Moral Prejudices became a subject of discussion and even of controversy as soon as it appeared. It was argued, for example, that Baier had done herself a disservice by basing her analyses on the theory of gender differences. However, one reason for the book’s importance was that it does explore the differences in perspective between men and women and, even more significant, the dissimilarities between men philosophers and women philosophers, particularly as to ethical issues.
The theory of “appropriate trust” proposed by Baier in earlier works and discussed at length in this volume has also provoked criticism. It is argued, for example, that trust alone cannot solve the social problems Baier mentions in Moral Prejudices (terrorism and genocide, for instance), not to mention disagreements about responsibilities in the home and gender-related problems in the workplace. However, because the author made it clear that this volume of essays was never intended as an outline of a new ethical system, it is likely that subsequent books will deal with such objections.
Perhaps the greatest impact of Moral Prejudices will be in its influence upon women readers and philosophers. Although it does not contain a blueprint for social harmony, at least it contains some interesting suggestions as to how women could influence society. If feminine values prevailed, and if everyone insisted on gentleness as the aim of child rearing and on mutual respect rather than competition as a guideline for adults, including husbands and wives and academics, the result could well be a much more satisfactory world.