Marilyn Friedman

Marilyn Friedman
Born (1945-04-07) April 7, 1945 (age 76)
Nationality American
Other names Marilyn Ann Friedman
Alma mater University of Western Ontario, Canada
Notable work
Autonomy, Gender, Politics
Main interests
Female terrorists, women's rights, and cultural diversity

Marilyn Ann Friedman (born April 7, 1945)[1] is an American philosopher. She holds the W. Alton Jones Chair of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University.[2]


In 1967, she received an A.B. in political science from Washington University in St. Louis. In 1968, she moved to Canada for political reasons and resided there for a decade. By 1974 she received a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada. In 1964, while Friedman was taking a year off from college, she was persuaded by what she refers to as "a kind of political ignorance and apathy" by political chaos.[3]


Friedman's full-time teaching career began in 1973 at Denison University, where she spent four years teaching . Since then she has also taught in the U.S. and Canada, ranging from small private liberal arts college to a large state university, such as University of Western Ontario, Bowling Green State University, Purdue University, and Washington University in St. Louis.

By the mid-1980s, autonomy had become her main academic focus. "Many feminists thought that the moral ideal of autonomy represented male but not female modes of moral reasoning," said Friedman.[4] "Most people saw autonomy as a separation of self from loved ones—a kind of selfishness. I see it in terms of self-determination, and I didn't think it had to carry specifically masculine associations." Friedman considers the impact of familial and community relationships on autonomy and considers critical reflection as a way to diminish oppression.[5] She has also explored such topics as: the nature of close interpersonal relationships, women in poverty, care and justice, partiality and impartiality, autonomy, gender identity, and multicultural education.[6] Friedman gained tenure in 1993, twenty years after she first began teaching. In 2009 she joined the faculty at Vanderbilt University,[7] working in social and political philosophy, ethics, and feminist theory.[2]


Friedman's first book, What Are Friends For? Feminist Perspectives on Personal Relationships on Moral Theory,[8] discusses friendship, care ethics, partiality, and impartiality. Her 2003 book Autonomy, Gender, Politics,[9] defends the ideals of autonomy against various analyses and applies that model to issues like domestic violence and multicultural political relationships.[10] Friedman is also the editor of Women and Citizenship, which contains essays by leading feminist scholars, and has co-edited Feminism and Community, Mind and Morals: Essays on Ethics and Cognitive Science, and Rights and Reason: Essays in Honor of Carl Wellman. Her articles have appeared in anthologies,[11] as well as the Journal of Philosophy, Ethics, Hypatia, and others.

Awards and recognition

Throughout Friedman's career, she has earned several research fellowships and directed a woman's studies program. Her fields of special interest are female terrorists, women's rights, and cultural diversity. Friedman's interests include a project on female terrorists, and she has covered topics such as whether virtue is required for happiness, how to engage in blaming people in a responsible manner, and how to understand abused women who are convicted of failing to protect their children from the same abusers who are abusing them.

Personal life

Friedman was raised in the city of Chicago by parents who were poorly educated, working class Jewish immigrants.[12] She is married to philosopher Larry May,[13] and has one daughter.


  1. ^ "Friedman, Marilyn, 1945-". Library of Congress. Retrieved 4 March 2015. data sheet (Marilyn Ann Friedman; b. 4/7/1945)
  2. ^ a b "Marilyn Friedman | Philosophy Department | Vanderbilt University". Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  3. ^ "Philosopher Explores Autonomy as Self- Determination".
  4. ^ Tennant, Kristin. "Washington University in St. Louis Magazine". Retrieved 2016-02-02. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Stoljar, Natalie (2015-01-01). "Autonomy, Philosophy of". International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Oxford: Elsevier. pp. 314–319. doi:10.1016/b978-0-08-097086-8.63004-0. ISBN 9780080970875.
  6. ^ Switala, Kristin. "Marilyn Friedman." Center for Digital Discourse and Cultureat Virginia Tech University. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Jul 2013. [1].
  7. ^ "Marilyn A. Friedman Curriculum Vitae". Vanderbilt University. Retrieved 2019-05-06.
  8. ^ Friedman, Marilyn (1993-12-01). What are friends for?: feminist perspectives on personal relationships and moral theory. Cornell University Press. ISBN 9780801427213.
  9. ^ "ebrary: Document Viewing Options". Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  10. ^ Tennant, Kristin. "Philosopher Explores Autonomy as Self Determination ." Washington University in St. Louis Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Jul 2013. [2].
  11. ^ Friedman, Marilyn (2005), "Autonomy, social disruption, and women", in Cudd, Ann E.; Andreasen, Robin O. (eds.), Feminist theory: a philosophical anthology, Oxford, UK Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, pp. 339–351, ISBN 9781405116619.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Larry May (born 1952)

External links

  • "W. Alton Jones Chair of Philosophy." Vanderbilt University Department of Philosophy. Vanderbilt University. Web. 25 Jul 2013. [3].
  • "Professor Marilyn Friedman." Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics. N.p.. Web. 25 Jul 2013. [4].