Meredith Michaels

Research Associate in Philosophy

Contact & Office Hours


Meredith Michaels teaches and writes about the ethics and epistemology of reproduction. She is particularly interested in the ways that social expectations regarding women's status as mothers shape what count as biological and cultural facts. Though her focus has been on 20th- (and now 21st-) century contestations over women’s reproductive agency, she is also interested in their historical roots in the “Scientific Revolution” of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Michaels' most recent scholarly book, which she wrote with Lynn M. Morgan, professor of anthropology at Mount Holyoke College, is Fetal Subjects/Feminist Positions. Her ongoing commitment to the revitalization of undergraduate philosophy has generated the fifth edition of Twenty Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy (with Lee Bowie and Robert Solomon). The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Undermines Women, with Susan J. Douglas, is about the representation of motherhood in the media since the 1970s. A precursor to the book can be found in Ms. Magazine under the title “Mommy Wars,” which is a comparison of media representations of celebrity and welfare mothers. Michaels is currently at work on an exploration of the recent “explosion” of high-order multiple births (septuplets, octuplets) in relation to the moral/political status of fetuses.

At Smith, Michaels has taught courses on reproductive ethics, feminist theory and feminist interpretations of Descartes.

Selected Publications

The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Undermines Women, with Susan J. Douglas. Free Press, 2004.  

Twenty Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy, with Lee Bowie and Robert Solomon, Wadsworth, 2003. 

“Mommy Wars,” Ms. Magazine, January/February 2000. 

Fetal Positions/Feminist Practices, with Lynn M. MorganUniversity of Pennsylvania Press, 1999.