Mary's Wollstonecraft's conception of rights

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Mary Wollstonecraft is celebrated for her Vindication of the Rights of Woman. However, while her title suggests that rights must play an important part in improving women’s situation, it is less clear how she envisages them. What does she think rights are and how are they to transform women’s lives? I argue that Wollstonecraft blends two traditions, a republican conception of rights as powers to act, and a distinct conception of natural rights. She offers a radical development of republican rights theory, but, in order to resolve one of the problems it poses, resorts to divinely-ordained rights of nature. Is she alone in combining these two stances? In the final part of the chapter I show that she is not. Her position belongs to a historical trend in which republicanism gives way to a liberal outlook grounded on individual natural rights.



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The Rights of Man and the Care of the Self.Alexandre Lefebvre - 2016 - Political Theory 44 (4):518-540.
A vindication of the rights of woman.Mary Wollstonecraft - 2007 - In Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe, Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya (eds.), Late Modern Philosophy: Essential Readings with Commentary. Blackwell.
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.Eileen Hunt Botting (ed.) - 2014 - Yale University Press.


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Sarah James
Brock University

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