Hypatia 29 (4):908-924 (2014)

Alan M. S. J. Coffee
King's College London
Independence is a central and recurring theme in Mary Wollstonecraft's work. Independence should not be understood as an individualistic ideal that is in tension with the value of community but as an essential ingredient in successful and flourishing social relationships. I examine three aspects of this rich and complex concept that Wollstonecraft draws on as she develops her own notion of independence as a powerful feminist tool. First, independence is an egalitarian ideal that requires that all individuals, regardless of sex, be protected to a comparable extent in all areas of social, political, and economic life, no matter whether this is in the public or private sphere. Second, so long as this egalitarian condition is not compromised, independence allows for individuals to perform differentiated social roles, including along gendered lines. Finally, the ongoing and collective input of both women and men is required to ensure that the conditions necessary for social independence are maintained. In Wollstonecraft's hands, then, independence is a powerful ideal that allows her to argue that women must be able to act on their own terms as social and political equals, doing so as women whose perspectives and interests may differ from men's.
Keywords Wollstonecraft  Freedom as Independence  Freedom as non-domination  Republicanism  Women in the History of Philosophy
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DOI 10.1111/hypa.12093
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References found in this work BETA

Liberty before Liberalism.Quentin Skinner - 2001 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 63 (1):172-175.
Mary Wollstonecraft, Freedom and the Enduring Power of Social Domination.Alan M. S. J. Coffee - 2013 - European Journal of Political Theory 12 (2):116-135.
Feminism and Republicanism: Is This a Plausible Alliance?Anne Phillips - 2000 - Journal of Political Philosophy 8 (2):279–293.

View all 15 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Mary Wollstonecraft on the Imagination.Martina Reuter - 2017 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 25 (6):1138-1160.
Radicalism, Religion and Mary Wollstonecraft.Sarah Hutton - 2021 - Intellectual History Review 31 (1):181-198.

View all 8 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Independence as Relational Freedom.Alan M. S. J. Coffee - 2018 - In Sandrine Berges & Siani Alberto (eds.), Women Philosophers on Autonomy. London, UK: pp. 94-112.
Mary Wollstonecraft, Freedom and the Enduring Power of Social Domination.Alan M. S. J. Coffee - 2013 - European Journal of Political Theory 12 (2):116-135.
Catharine Macaulay's Influence on Mary Wollstonecraft.Alan M. S. J. Coffee - 2019 - In Sandrine Berges, Eileen Hunt Botting & Alan M. S. J. Coffee (eds.), The Wollstonecraftian Mind. London: pp. 198-210.
Feminist Interpretations of Mary Wollstonecraft.Maria J. Falco (ed.) - 1995 - Pennsylvania State University Press.
Independence of Irrelevant Alternatives Revisited.Susumu Cato - 2014 - Theory and Decision 76 (4):511-527.


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