Elisa Orrù
University of Freiburg
The importance of French revolutionary and philosopher Olympe de Gouges as a pioneer of the women’s rights movement is generally recognised today. In contrast, the significance of her thought for practical philosophy has not yet been fully appreciated. This article aims to bring out the relevance of de Gouges’ writings for practical philosophy both historically and systematically. Drawing on her 1791 text The Rights of Women, this article compares de Gouges’ depiction of gender relationships in the private and public spheres with depictions by such classical social contract theorists as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Immanuel Kant. From a historical perspective, de Gouges’ key contribution consists in pointing to and overcoming the theoretical assumptions that hamper the universality of individual rights. From a systematic perspective, de Gouges provides an account of the relationship between abstract universalism and concrete experiences of inequality that is now more topical than ever.
Keywords Olympe de Gouges  French Revolution  Women's Rights  Universalism  Feminist Theory  Immanuel Kant  Social Contract Theory  Thomas Hobbes  Jean-Jacques Rousseau  John Locke
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