In Thomas Schramme & Michael Schefczyk (eds.), John Stuart Mill: Über Die Freiheit. Berlin: De Gruyter. pp. 159-180 (2015)

Christoph Schmidt-Petri
London School of Economics (PhD)
This chapter discusses (in German) John Stuart Mill's position on paternalism and how it relates to his book 'The Subjection of Women'. It is argued that Mill's claim (in On Liberty) that one should not be allowed to sell oneself into slavery is making reference to the Victorian marriage contract through which women essentially become slaves of their husbands. As argued in Subjection, women do not freely develop the desire to get married, the social circumstances do not leave them any other options. Necessarily unaware of what married life is like, the decision to get married is like crossing an unsafe bridge without knowing it is unsafe. It is not paternalist, as Mill argues, to alert them to the condition of the bridge and put them in the position to decide for themselves whether they want to cross it (or turn back half way, e.g. by divorcing).
Keywords John Stuart Mill  Marriage  Divorce  On Liberty  The Subjection of Women  Hard Paternalism  Soft Paternalism  Paternalism  Feminism  Harriet Taylor Mill
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DOI 10.1515/9783050094731-009
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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.
Über Die Freiheit.John Stuart Mill & Else Wentscher - 2011 - Felix Meiner Verlag.

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