In this volume, a companion to Feminist Interpretations and Political Theory (Penn State, 1991) edited by MaryLyndonShanley and Carole Pateman, leading feminist theorists rethink the traditional concepts of political theory and expand the ...
This volume brings together exciting and provocative new feminist readings of famous classic and contemporary texts from Plato to Habermas. The collection also includes examinations of the writings of Mary Wollstonecraft and Simone de Beauvoir that are usually excluded from the works conventionally held to comprise "Western political thought." The essays raise fundamentally important questions about the significance of sexual difference in the great works of political theory and draw attention to neglected arguments and silences in the texts. No (...) single feminist view of either the texts or the theoretical way forward informs these essays. A wide diversity of feminist approaches and theoretical frameworks are represented, forming a rich variety of interpretations and argument about such questions as the patriarchal construction of central political categories, the relation between public and private life, and the problem of equality and difference, including differences among women. This refreshing and stimulating collection will be indispensable for students of political thought and offers all those interested in the connection between the classic writings and current political discussions as accessible introduction to feminist argument. (shrink)
This article discusses three main orientations in recent works of legal and political theory about the family-contract-based, community-based, and rights-based-and argues that none of these takes adequate account of two paradoxical features of family life and of the family's relationship to the state. A coherent political and legal theory of the family in the contemporary United States requires recognition of the relational rights and responsibilities intrinsic to family life.
La práctica de comprar y vender gametos humanos afecta de manera importante la relación que tenemos con nuestro material genético, la medida en que los lazos familiares son creados por la naturaleza y la voluntad humana y el papel que debería desempeñar el mercado en la formación de familias. El presente artículo se centra en dos pre-guntas éticas y de política que surgen cuando la gente forma familias con gametos proporcionados por otras personas. Primero, las personas creadas con gametos donados, (...) ¿deberían poder conocer la identidad de el o los donantes? Segundo, la venta de óvulos y esperma, ¿debería prohibirse, regularse, o dejarse al mercado libre? La autora sostiene que la sociedad debería prohibir tanto el anonimato como el mercado libre de gametos humanos, pues ambos se han desarrollado de modos que no toman en consideración de manera adecuada los intereses del niño o de la sociedad. (shrink)
The articles collected in this critical edition represent a variety of interpretations both of the kind of feminism Mill represents and of the specific arguments he offers in The Subjection of Women including their lexical ordering and relative merit. Each selection is preceded by a brief and useful summary of the author's position intended to assist introductory students.
This article examines arguments concerning the right of an unwed biological father to consent to the adoption of his offspring, and to take custody of the child even against the mother's wishes. The understanding of gender-neutrality that supposedly supports many such arguments is false, and risks diminishing women's decision-making authority under the guise of sex equality. Laws governing unwed parent's rights must emphasize the centrality of parental responsibility in establishing parental rights.
As the national debate intensifies over what marriage is and who may marry, MaryLyndonShanley argues that although the state should continue to play a role in regulating personal relations, the law must be fundamentally reformed if marriage is to become a more just institution. Thirteen prominent writers and thinkers respond, including Nancy F. Cott, William N. Eskridge, Jr., Amitai Etzioni, Martha Albertson Fineman, and Cass R. Sunstein.
Whatever may be said about contemporary feminists’ evaluation of Descartes’ role in the history of feminism, Mary Astell herself believed that Descartes’ philosophy held tremendous promise for women. His urging all people to eschew the tyranny of custom and authority in order to uncover the knowledge that could be found in each one of our unsexed souls potentially offered women a great deal of intellectual and personal freedom and power. Certainly Astell often read Descartes in this way, and Astell (...) herself has been interpreted as a feminist – indeed, as the first English feminist. But a close look at Astell’s and Descartes’ theories of reason, and the role of authority in knowledge formation as well as in their philosophies of education, show that there are subtle yet crucial divergences in their thought – divergences which force us to temper our evaluation of Astell as a feminist. -/- My first task is to evaluate Astell’s views on custom and authority in knowledge formation and education by comparing her ideas with those of Descartes. While it is true that Astell seems to share Descartes’ wariness of custom and authority, a careful reading of her work shows that the wariness extends only as far as the tyranny of custom over individual intellectual development. It does not extend to a wariness about social and institutional customs and authority (including, perhaps most crucially, the institution of marriage as we see in her Reflection on Marriage). The reason for this is that Astell’s driving goal is to help women to come to know God’s plan for women – both in their roles as human and in their roles as women. According to Astell, while it is true that, as individuals, women must develop their rational capacities to the fullest in order to honor God and his plan for women as human, as members of social institutions, including the institution of marriage, women must subordinate themselves to men, including their husbands, in this case so as to honor God and his plan for women as women. Once we understand the theological underpinnings of her equivocal reaction to authority and custom, we can see that Astell may be considered a feminist in a very tempered way. -/- My second task is to use these initial conclusions to re-read her proposal for single-sexed education that we find in A Serious Proposal to the Ladies. It is true that Astell encourages women to join single-sexed educational institutions for the unique and empowering friendships that women can develop in such institutions. Still, my argument continues, the development of such friendships is not entirely an end in itself. Rather, Astell encourages women to develop such friendships such that they can re-enter the broader world armed with the tools that will help them endure burdensome features of the lives that await them in the world, including their lives as subordinated wives –burdens that Astell does not, in principle, challenge. (shrink)
Mary Shepherd and the Causal Relation - Part One -/- Part One gives context to the life and work of Lady Mary Shepherd. It weaves together the stories of her ancestors, her own stories and the wider social, historical and philosophical context. The aim is to evoke a world from which to mark the emergence of Mary Shepherd, Scotland’s first female philosopher.
According to some scholars, Mary Astell’s feminist programme is severely limited by its focus on self-improvement rather than wider social change. In response, I highlight the role of ‘virtuous friendship’ in Astell’s 1694 work, A Serious Proposal to the Ladies. Building on classical ideals and traditional Christian principles, Astell promotes the morally transformative power of virtuous friendship among women. By examining the significance of such friendship to Astell’s feminism, we can see that she did in fact aim to bring (...) about reformation of society and not just the individual. (shrink)
Lady Mary Shepherd’s critique of Hume’s account of causation, his worries about knowledge of matters of fact, and the contention that it is possible for the course of nature to spontaneously change relies primarily on three premises, two of which – that objects are merely bundles of qualities and that the qualities of an object are individuated by the causal powers contributed by those qualities – anticipate contemporary metaphysical views in ways that she should be getting credit for. The (...) remaining premise – that it is impossible for an object to begin to exist uncaused – seems more old fashioned. I argue that Shepherd can do without her old-fashioned premise and that she provides the materials for arguing that her remaining premises demonstrate a stronger anti-Humeanism than is maintained even by the contemporary representatives of those views, even though she may have to concede more to Humeanism than she would like. (shrink)
Mary Midgley argued that philosophy was a necessity, not a luxury. It's difficulties lie partly in the fact that, when doing it, we are struggling not only against the difficulty of the subject matter, but also certain tendencies within ourselves. I focus on two - one-way reductionism and myopic specialisation.
Nearly two hundred years ago, Mary Wollstonecraft wrote what is considered to be the first major work of feminist political theory: A Vindication of the Rights of Women . Much has been written about this work, and about Wollstonecraft as the intellectual pioneer of feminism, but the actual substance and coherence of her political thought have been virtually ignored. Virginia Sapiro here provides the first full-length treatment of Wollstonecraft's political theory. Drawing on all of Wollstonecraft's works and treating them (...) thematically rather than sequentially, Sapiro shows that Wollstonecraft's ideas about women's rights, feminism, and gender are elements of a broad and fully developed philosophy, one with significant implications for contemporary democratic and liberal theory. The issues raised speak to many current debates in theory, including those surrounding interpretation of the history of feminism, the relationship between liberalism and republicanism in the development of political philosophy, and the debate over the canon. For political scientists, most of whom know little about Wollstonecraft's thought, Sapiro's book is an excellent, nuanced introduction which will cause a reconsideration of her work and her significance both for her time and for today's concerns. For feminist scholars, Sapiro's book offers a rounded and unconventional analysis of Wollstonecraft's thought. Written with considerable charm and verve, this book will be the starting point for understanding this important writer for years to come. (shrink)
In the 1706 third edition of her Reflections upon Marriage, Mary Astell alludes to John Locke’s definition of slavery in her descriptions of marriage. She describes the state of married women as being ‘subject to the inconstant, uncertain, unknown, Arbitrary Will of another Man’ (Locke, Two Treatises, II.22). Recent scholars maintain that Astell does not seriously regard marriage as a form of slavery in the Lockean sense. In this paper, I defend the contrary position: I argue that Astell does (...) seriously regard marriage as a form of slavery for women and that she condemns this state of affairs as morally wrong. I also show that, far from criticizing Locke, Astell draws on key passages in his Thoughts concerning Education to urge that women be educated to retain their liberty. (shrink)
There are close parallels between Frank Jackson's case of black-and-white Mary and David Lewis's case of the two omniscient gods. This essay develops and defends what may be called “the ability hypothesis” about the knowledge that the gods lack, by adapting Lewis's ability hypothesis about the knowledge that Mary acquires. What the gods might lack despite their propositional omniscience is not any distinctive kind of information, but certain abilities of introspection. The motivating idea is that knowledge one acquires (...) by exercising introspective abilities cannot fail to be knowledge about oneself or indexical knowledge. So in order to envisage the gods' epistemic situation coherently, we need to assume that they lack those introspective abilities. But once we recognize that, it turns out that positing a special kind of information is a gratuitous addition. The two gods' ignorance simply consists in their lack of introspective abilities. (shrink)
Considering the whole corpus of Mary Wollstonecraft’s writings, this paper focuses on her view of rights, seen as moral claims and rhetoric tools. Firstly, it is argued that, in the author’s perspective, their technical and judicial dimension is peripheral, where “rights” are human features within a religious conception of life. Secondly, some consequent aspects are analysed, such as the rights’ effectiveness, their nature, their content and their entitlement.
Mary Astell is best known today as one of the earliest English feminists. This book sheds new light on her writings by interpreting her first and foremost as a moral philosopher—as someone committed to providing guidance on how best to live. The central claim of this work is that all the different strands of Astell’s thought—her epistemology, her metaphysics, her philosophy of the passions, her feminist vision, and her conservative political views—are best understood in light of her ethical objectives. (...) To support that claim, this work examines Astell’s programme to bring about a moral transformation of character in her fellow women. This ethical programme draws on several key aspects of seventeenth-century philosophy, including Cartesian and Neoplatonist epistemologies, ontological and cosmological proofs for the existence of God, rationalist arguments for the soul’s immateriality, and theories about how to regulate the passions in accordance with reason. At the heart of Astell’s philosophical system lies a theory of virtue, including guidelines about how to cultivate generosity of character, a benevolent disposition towards others, and the virtue of moderation. This book explains the foundations of that moral theory, and then examines how it shapes and informs Astell’s response to male tyranny within marriage and to political tyranny in the state. It concludes with some reflections on the historiographical implications of writing Mary Astell back into the history of philosophy. (shrink)
This short paper grew out of an observation—made in the course of a larger research project—of a surprising convergence between, on the one hand, certain themes in the work of Mary Hesse and Nelson Goodman in the 1950/60s and, on the other hand, recent work on the representational resources of science, in particular regarding model-based representation. The convergence between these more recent accounts of representation in science and the earlier proposals by Hesse and Goodman consists in the recognition that, (...) in order to secure successful representation in science, collective representational resources must be available. Such resources may take the form of (amongst others) mathematical formalisms, diagrammatic methods, notational rules, or—in the case of material models—conventions regarding the use and manipulation of the constituent parts. More often than not, an abstract characterization of such resources tells only half the story, as they are constituted equally by the pattern of (practical and theoretical) activities—such as instances of manipulation or inference—of the researchers who deploy them. In other words, representational resources need to be sustained by a social practice; this is what renders them collective representational resources in the first place. (shrink)
Although Catharine Macaulay was a contract theorist and early feminist her philosophy is not based on a concept of liberty like that of Hobbes, but on a notion of individual liberty as self government close to that accepted by Mary Astell. This raises the question of whether criticisms of liberal feminism which assume that it is rooted in Hobbes's suspect notion of freedom and consent may miss there mark.
Mary Midgley's book Utopias, Dolphins and Computers will be needed to recharge our more philosophical approach to life as new problems present themselves to humanity at an accelerated rate. The most dangerous attitude to these challenges, Midgley argues, is an anti-intellectualism that fails to see that all approaches presuppose tacit or hidden assumptions, that is a philosophy. One part of our tacit philosophy that is now breaking up is the social contract, according to Mary Midgley in Utopias, Dolphins (...) and Computers It needs tempering with a vision of people in relationships bordering on the organic—ideas with their roots in ecology—rather than as fundamentally isolated atoms in contractual union. (shrink)
: If liberal theory is to move forward, it must take the political nature of family relations seriously. The beginnings of such a liberalism appear in Mary Wollstonecraft's work. Wollstonecraft's depiction of the family as a fundamentally political institution extends liberal values into the private sphere by promoting the ideal of marriage as friendship. However, while her model of marriage diminishes arbitrary power in family relations, she seems unable to incorporate enduring sexual relations between married partners.
In her book, Moral Status, Mary Anne Warren defends a comprehensive theory of the moral status of various entities. Under this theory, she argues that animals may have some moral rights but that their rights are much weaker in strength than the rights of humans, who have rights in the fullest, strongest sense. Subsequently, Warren believes that our duties to animals are far weaker than our duties to other humans. This weakness is especially evident from the fact that Warren (...) believes that it is frequently permissible for humans to kill animals for food. Warren’s argument for her view consists primarily in the belief that we have inevitable practical conflicts with animals that make it impossible to grant them equal rights without sacrificing basic human interests. However, her arguments fail to justify her conclusions. In particular, Warren fails to justify her beliefs that animals do not have an equal right to life and that it is permissible for humans to kill animals for food. (shrink)
In 1997, five decades after the publication of the landmark Hempel-Oppenheim article "Studies in the Logic of Explanation"(, 1970) Wesley Salmon published Causality and Explanation, a book that re-addresses the issue of scientific explanation. He provided an overview of the basic approaches to scientific explanation, stressed their weaknesses, and offered novel insights. However, he failed to mention Mary Hesse's approach to the topic and analyze her standpoint. This essay brings front and center Hesse's approach to scientific explanation formulated in (...) the 1960s and argues that rereading Hesse's account one can overcome the criticisms addressed towards another influential theory of explanation that of Bas van Fraassen's. Furthermore, it could bring the traditional philosophy of science into a fruitful conversation with science and technology studies and gender studies in science, technology and medicine. (shrink)
In 1997, five decades after the publication of the landmark Hempel-Oppenheim article "Studies in the Logic of Explanation" Wesley Salmon published Causality and Explanation, a book that re-addresses the issue of scientific explanation. He provided an overview of the basic approaches to scientific explanation, stressed their weaknesses, and offered novel insights. However, he failed to mention Mary Hesse's approach to the topic and analyze her standpoint. This essay brings front and center Hesse's approach to scientific explanation formulated in the (...) 1960s and argues that rereading Hesse's account one can overcome the criticisms addressed towards another influential theory of explanation that of Bas van Fraassen's. Furthermore, it could bring the traditional philosophy of science into a fruitful conversation with science and technology studies and gender studies in science, technology and medicine. (shrink)
This article discusses the work of Dr Mary Louisa Gordon, who was appointed as the first English Lady Inspector of Prisons in 1908, and remained in post until 1921. Her attitude towards and treatment of women prisoners, as explained in her 1922 book Penal Discipline, stands in sharp contrast to that of her male contemporaries, and the categorisation of her approach as ‘feminist’ is reinforced by her documented connections with the suffragette movement. Yet her feminist and suffragist associations also (...) resulted in the marginalisation and dismissal of her work, such that Mary Gordon and Penal Discipline are virtually unknown today. Nevertheless, her insights into the position and needs of women prisoners retain a striking contemporary relevance. (shrink)
During a smallpox epidemic in April 1721, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu asked Dr. Charles Maitland to "engraft" her daughter, thus instigating the first documented inoculation for smallpox (_Variola_ virus) in England. Engrafting, or variolation, was a means of conferring immunity to smallpox by placing pus taken from a smallpox pustule under the skin of an uninfected person to create a local infection. The introduction of infectious viral matter, however, could trigger fullblown smallpox, and the practice was controversial for both (...) this reason and the pervasive conviction that it was immoral to intentionally infect a human body. Eventually, engrafting was phased out altogether in favor of vaccination, a much safer procedure established by Edward Jenner in the late eighteenth century. Montagu's decision was influenced by her experiences in Constantinople, where she had spent a year, and where engrafting was commonplace. As a smallpox survivor herself, Montagu had taken an interest in Turkish inoculation practices, and had had her son Edward engrafted while in Turkey. She was not the first person to import the idea of smallpox inoculation to England, nor the first English person to have their child inoculated (other English children had been inoculated while visiting Turkey), yet she quickly became known for importing and popularizing smallpox inoculation. At the request of her acquaintances, she took her inoculated daughter with her on a round of visits into elite households to demonstrate the safety of the procedure. The reputation she gained was both positive and negative: monuments were erected in her honor, encomiastic poems were published, and Voltaire declared her "a woman of as fine a genius, and endued with as great a strength of mind as any of her sex in the British Kingdoms"; however, anti-inoculationists ridiculed her, some society figures regarded her warily, and Alexander Pope satirized her in his poetry.
Montagus pioneering role in the smallpox debate is undoubtedly significant: she instigated the first smallpox inoculation on English soil, and she was largely responsible for making the practice acceptable in elite circles. My interest in this essay is in the nature and significance of Montagus reputation as an inoculation pioneer. I will argue that her reputation was based on the particular combination of her social position as a Whig and an aristocratic woman; her interest in progressive and enlightened forms of social, political, and scientific thought; her standing in influential literary circles; and, not least, the force of her own personality. In broad terms, I offer Montagus involvement in the smallpox debate as a case study in a new kind of public role becoming available to elite women in the early eighteenth century a role that caused considerable discomfort among her peers and in the medical community, and one that stimulated a widespread controversy in print publications of the day. (shrink)
Combining the liberalism of Locke and the "civic humanism" of Republicanism, Mary Wollstonecraft explored the need of women for coed and equal education with men, economic independence whether married or not, and representation as citizens in the halls of government. In doing so, she foreshadowed and surpassed her much better known successor, John Stuart Mill. Ten feminist scholars prominent in the fields of political philosophy, constitutional and international law, rhetoric, literature, and psychology argue here that Wollstonecraft, by reason of (...) the scope and complexity of her thought, belongs in the "canon" of political philosophers along with Rousseau and Burke, her contemporaries, both of whom she strenuously engaged in political debate. These essays explore the many aspects of her thought that resound so tellingly to the modern woman, including her groundbreaking attempt to be completely self-sufficient. The final bibliographical essay outlines the changing interpretations of Wollstonecraft's work over the past two hundred years and evaluates her standing among political theorists today. Contributors are Maria J. Falco, Penny A. Weiss, Virginia Sapiro, Virginia L. Muller, Wendy Gunther-Canada, Carol H. Poston, Miriam Brody, Moira Ferguson, Louise Byer Miller, and Dorothy McBride Stetson. (shrink)
Although ‘virtue’ is a complex idea in Wollstonecraft’s work, one of its senses refers to the capacity and willingness to govern one’s own conduct rationally, and to employ this ability in deliberating about matters of public concern. Wollstonecraft understands virtue to be integral to the meaning of freedom rather than as merely instrumentally useful for its preservation. It follows, therefore, that a free republic must be a virtuous one. The first virtue of social institutions, we might say, is ‘virtue’ itself. (...) In a virtuous republic all citizens, from no matter which social group, are able to represent themselves in law and in public debate. This is a demanding condition, requiring not just suitably robust republican institutions but an open and accommodating public culture in which sufficient numbers of citizens are positively engaged in ensuring that the available stock of background ideas and values is representative, diverse and inclusive. (shrink)
This open-ended anthology is a journey into the very canon that Mary Daly has argued to be patriarchal and demeaning to women. This volume deauthorizes the official canon of Western philosophy and disrupts a related story told by some feminists who claim that Daly’s work is unworthy of re-reading because it contains fatal errors. The editors and contributors attempt to prove that Mary Daly is located in the Western intellectual tradition. Daly may be highly critical of conventional Western (...) epistemological and theological traditions, but she nevertheless appropriates themes “out-of-context” for the building of her own systematic philosophy. The following are just a few of the many themes explored in this volume: • the question of subjectivity understood as an ongoing process of be-coming • the ambiguity of the need for feminists of colonial nations to speak out about violence against women in other parts of the world while that speaking carries with it the stamp of a colonial location • the territoriality of lesbian and women’s space • the theological dimensions of twentieth-century Western philosophy. Contributors are Wanda Warren Berry, Purushottama Bilimoria, Debra Campbell, Molly Dragiewicz, Frances Gray, Amber L. Katherine, AnaLouise Keating, Anne-Marie Korte, María Lugones, Geraldine Moane, Sheilagh A. Mogford, Laurel C. Schneider, Renuka Sharma, and Marja Suhonen. (shrink)
For over 40 years, Mary Midgley made a forceful case for the relevance and importance of philosophy. With characteristic wit and wisdom, she drew special attention to the ways in which our thought influences our everyday lives. Her common-sense approach to human nature and the self, our connections with animals and the natural world, and the complexities of morality, gender, science, and religion has been widely praised by those trying to make sense of this often confusing world. -/- (...) class='Hi'>Mary Midgley: An Introduction is the first substantive introduction to Midgley's influential philosophy on the human condition. -/- This volume, supplemented by original interviews with Midgley, outlines the concepts and perspectives for which she is best known and illuminates the philosophical problems to which she devoted her life's work. -/- Table of Contents -/- 1. Philosophical Plumbing 2. Human Nature and the Self 3. Morality and Wholeness 4. Animals and Why They Matter 5. Our Connection to Nature 6. Gender and Fragmentation 7. Science in Context 8. Religion, Science, and Complexity 9. Afterword: One World, But A Big One -/- Bibliography Index. (shrink)