This article examines popular discourses of women's sexuality in 1920s England and argues that sex manuals like Marie Stopes's Married Life and sex novels like E.M. Hull's The Sheik, despite their adherence to status quo values, were liberating for women through their affirmation of women's sexual subjectivity. Stopes's enormously popular book contributed strongly to a new understanding of women's sexual drives as natural and autonomous. The changing attitudes were reflected in the numbers of postwar women who actively participated in the (...) creation and consumption of popular sex-novels and films, exercising both economic and sexual freedoms at once. This article focusses on the film version of The Sheik, which experienced great success as part of this growing leisure market catering specifically to women's desire, and in particular on the figure of Rudolph Valentino as a “woman-made” man. The film's “crossed” representations of sexuality challenged traditional notions of femininity and masculinity, and in doing so, were liberating for women consumers at the same time that they threatened the sexual identities of men. (shrink)
Empirical work on and common observation of the emotions tells us that our emotions sometimes key us to the presence of real and important reason-giving considerations without necessarily presenting that information to us in a way susceptible of conscious articulation and, sometimes, even despite our consciously held and internally justified judgment that the situation contains no such reasons. In this paper, I want to explore the implications of the fact that emotions show varying degrees of integration with our conscious agency—from (...) none at all to quite substantial—for our understanding of our rationality, and in particular for the traditional assumption that weakness of the will is necessarily irrational. (shrink)
We frequently speak of certain things or phenomena being built out of or based in others. Making Things Up concerns these relations, which connect more fundamental things to less fundamental things: Karen Bennett calls these 'building relations'. She aims to illuminate what it means to say that one thing is more fundamental than another.
Drawing on insights from causal theories of reference, teleosemantics, and state space semantics, a theory of naturalized mental representation. In A Mark of the Mental, Karen Neander considers the representational power of mental states—described by the cognitive scientist Zenon Pylyshyn as the “second hardest puzzle” of philosophy of mind. The puzzle at the heart of the book is sometimes called “the problem of mental content,” “Brentano's problem,” or “the problem of intentionality.” Its motivating mystery is how neurobiological states can (...) have semantic properties such as meaning or reference. Neander proposes a naturalistic account for sensory-perceptual representations. Neander draws on insights from state-space semantics, causal theories of reference, and teleosemantic theories. She proposes and defends an intuitive, theoretically well-motivated but highly controversial thesis: sensory-perceptual systems have the function to produce inner state changes that are the analogs of as well as caused by their referents. Neander shows that the three main elements—functions, causal-information relations, and relations of second-order similarity—complement rather than conflict with each other. After developing an argument for teleosemantics by examining the nature of explanation in the mind and brain sciences, she develops a theory of mental content and defends it against six main content-determinacy challenges to a naturalized semantics. (shrink)
A variety of relations widely invoked by philosophers—composition, constitution, realization, micro-basing, emergence, and many others—are species of what I call ‘building relations’. I argue that they are conceptually intertwined, articulate what it takes for a relation to count as a building relation, and argue that—contra appearances—it is an open possibility that these relations are all determinates of a common determinable, or even that there is really only one building relation.
The frame problem was originally a problem for Artificial Intelligence, but philosophers have interpreted it as an epistemological problem for human cognition. As a result of this reinterpretation, however, specifying the frame problem has become a difficult task. To get a better idea of what the frame problem is, how it gives rise to more general problems of relevance, and how deep these problems run, I expound six guises of the frame problem. I then assess some proposed heuristic solutions to (...) the frame problem; I show that these proposals misunderstand, and fail to address, an important aspect of the frame problem. Finally, I argue that though human cognition does not solve the frame problem in its epistemological guise, human cognition avoids some of the epistemological worries. (shrink)
This book discusses the notion that quantum gravity may represent the "breakdown" of spacetime at extremely high energy scales. If spacetime does not exist at the fundamental level, then it has to be considered "emergent", in other words an effective structure, valid at low energy scales. The author develops a conception of emergence appropriate to effective theories in physics, and shows how it applies (or could apply) in various approaches to quantum gravity, including condensed matter approaches, discrete approaches, and loop (...) quantum gravity. (shrink)
Over 700,000 copies of the original hardcover and paperback editions of this stunningly popular book have been sold. Karen Armstrong's superbly readable exploration of how the three dominant monotheistic religions of the world—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—have shaped and altered the conception of God is a tour de force. One of Britain's foremost commentators on religious affairs, Armstrong traces the history of how men and women have perceived and experienced God, from the time of Abraham to the present. From classical (...) philosophy and medieval mysticism to the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the modern age of skepticism, Armstrong performs the near miracle of distilling the intellectual history of monotheism into one compelling volume. (shrink)
Relationships between current theories, and relationships between current theories and the sought theory of quantum gravity (QG), play an essential role in motivating the need for QG, aiding the search for QG, and defining what would count as QG. Correspondence is the broad class of inter-theory relationships intended to demonstrate the necessary compatibility of two theories whose domains of validity overlap, in the overlap regions. The variety of roles that correspondence plays in the search for QG are illustrated, using examples (...) from specific QG approaches. Reduction is argued to be a special case of correspondence, and to form part of the definition of QG. Finally, the appropriate account of emergence in the context of QG is presented, and compared to conceptions of emergence in the broader philosophy literature. It is argued that, while emergence is likely to hold between QG and general relativity, emergence is not part of the definition of QG, and nor can it serve usefully in the development and justification of the new theory. (shrink)
I offer a novel solution to the problem of counterfactual skepticism: the worry that all contingent counterfactuals without explicit probabilities in the consequent are false. I argue that a specific kind of contextualist semantics and pragmatics for would- and might-counterfactuals can block both central routes to counterfactual skepticism. One, it can explain the clash between would- and might-counterfactuals as in: If you had dropped that vase, it would have broken. and If you had dropped that vase, it might have safely (...) quantum tunneled to China. Two, it can explain why counterfactuals like can be true despite the fact that quantum tunneling worlds are among the most similar worlds. I further argue that this brand of contextualism accounts for the data better than other existing solutions to the problem. (shrink)
Awareness and un-clinging have been emphasised in Buddhist discourse as important facets of mindfulness practice for over 2500 years. However, there is a lack of rigorous research examining the relationship between these two elements and their importance to well-being. To evaluate these abstract constructs, the current study adopted multiple assessment modalities; namely, a self-report scale, experience sampling, and semi-structured interviews. A total of 415 participants completed the questionnaire survey. Among them, 71 participants further took part in the experience sampling procedure (...) and semi-structured interviews. The findings reveal that self-reported awareness was mildly correlated with momentary mindfulness but was not significantly correlated with rater-rated mindfulness. Self-reported un-clinging was moderately correlated with rater-rated mindfulness but was not significantly correlated with momentary mindfulness. Un-clinging, but not awareness, can distinguish meditators from non-meditators. Lastly, based on the Buddha’s mindfulness discourse, a path analysis model illustrates that the effects of un-clinging and awareness on stress reduction are mediated by emotional intelligence and non-attachment. Practical implications and future research designs are discussed. (shrink)
Principles are central to physical reasoning, particularly in the search for a theory of quantum gravity (QG), where novel empirical data is lacking. One principle widely adopted in the search for QG is UV completion: the idea that a theory should (formally) hold up to all possible high energies. We argue---/contra/ standard scientific practice---that UV-completion is poorly-motivated as a guiding principle in theory-construction, and cannot be used as a criterion of theory-justification in the search for QG. For this, we explore (...) the reasons for expecting, or desiring, a UV-complete theory, as well as analyse how UV completion is used, and how it should be used, in various specific approaches to QG. (shrink)
Principles are central to physical reasoning, particularly in the search for a theory of quantum gravity, where novel empirical data are lacking. One principle widely adopted in the search for QG is ultraviolet completion: the idea that a theory should hold up to all possible high energies. We argue— contra standard scientific practice—that UV-completion is poorly motivated as a guiding principle in theory-construction, and cannot be used as a criterion of theory-justification in the search for QG. For this, we explore (...) the reasons for expecting, or desiring, a UV-complete theory, as well as analyse how UV-completion is used, and how it should be used, in various specific approaches to QG. 1Introduction 1.1Principles in theory development and evaluation 2Primer on UV-Completion, Renormalizability, and All That 2.1Renormalizability and UV-completion 2.2Other forms of UV-completion 3Why Should QG Be UV-Complete? 3.1UV-completion and fundamentality 3.2UV-completion and minimal length 4UV-Completion in Different Approaches to QG 4.1String theory 4.2Asymptotic safety 4.3Causal dynamical triangulation 4.4Higher derivative approaches 4.5Supergravity 4.6Causal set theory 4.7Canonical QG 4.8Loop quantum gravity 4.9Approaches based on alternative gravitational theories 4.10Emergent gravity approaches 5UV-Completion as a Guiding Principle in QG 6Conclusion. (shrink)
Analogue experiments have attracted interest for their potential to shed light on inaccessible domains. For instance, ‘dumb holes’ in fluids and Bose–Einstein condensates, as analogues of black holes, have been promoted as means of confirming the existence of Hawking radiation in real black holes. We compare analogue experiments with other cases of experiment and simulation in physics. We argue—contra recent claims in the philosophical literature—that analogue experiments are not capable of confirming the existence of particular phenomena in inaccessible target systems. (...) As they must assume the physical adequacy of the modelling framework used to describe the inaccessible target system, arguments to the conclusion that analogue experiments can yield confirmation for phenomena in those target systems, such as Hawking radiation in black holes, beg the question. (shrink)
Many otherwise enlightened people often dismiss etiquette as a trivial subject or—worse yet—as nothing but a disguise for moral hypocrisy or unjust social hierarchies. Such sentiments either mistakenly assume that most manners merely frame the “real issues” of any interpersonal exchange or are the ugly vestiges of outdated, unfair social arrangements. But in _On Manners_, Karen Stohr turns the tables on these easy prejudices, demonstrating that the scope of manners is much broader than most people realize and that manners (...) lead directly to the roots of enduring ethical questions. Stohr suggests that though manners are mostly conventional, they are nevertheless authoritative insofar as they are a primary means by which we express moral attitudes and commitments and carry out important moral goals. Drawing primarily on Aristotle and Kant and with references to a wide range of cultural examples—from Jane Austen’s _Pride and Prejudice_ to Larry David’s _Curb Your Enthusiasm_—the author ultimately concludes that good manners are essential to moral character. (shrink)
Indispensable for students of Beauvoir’s philosophy and existentialism, Vintges’s book will prove valuable as well in courses on ethics, postmodernism, and feminist theory." —Ethics "... a highly informative book." —Teaching ...
This article proposes a new bi-directional way of understanding the convergence of biology and computing. It argues for a reciprocal interaction in which biology and computing have shaped and are currently reshaping each other. In so doing, we qualify both the view of a natural marriage and of a digital shaping of biology, which are common in the literature written by scientists, STS, and communication scholars. The DNA database is at the center of this interaction. We argue that DNA databases (...) are spaces of convergence for computing and biology that change in form, meaning, and function from the 1960s to the 2000s. The first part of the article shows how, in the 1980s, DNA sequencing shifted from passively incorporating computers to be increasingly modeled in digital coding and decoding. Information retrieval algorithms, reciprocally, were altered according to the peculiarities of DNA in the first sequence-storage databases. The second part of the article investigates the impact of these reciprocal interactions and globalization on the organization of research centers, ways of conducting big science, and scientific values. Through convergence and new technologies such as data mining, biology and computing were transformed technologically, institutionally, and culturally into a new bio-data enterprise called genomics. (shrink)
Discourse dynamics, pragmatics, and indefinites Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-30 DOI 10.1007/s11098-012-9882-y Authors Karen S. Lewis, Department of Philosophy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
A survey of contemporary philosophical and scientific literatures reveals that different authors employ the term ‘heuristic’ in ways that deviate from, and are sometimes inconsistent with, one another. Given its widespread use in philosophy and cognitive science generally, it is striking that there appears to be little concern for a clear account of what phenomena heuristics pick out or refer to. In response, I consider several accounts of ‘heuristic’, and I draw a number of distinctions between different sorts of heuristics (...) in order to make sense of various research programmes. I then develop a working characterization of ‘heuristic’ which is shown to be coherent and robust enough to serve as a kind within philosophy and cognitive science broadly. My intent is not to pursue a unified account of ‘heuristic’, but to highlight some features of certain kinds of heuristics that are important for theorizing about cognition in order to proceed with a science of the mind/brain. 1 Why We Need an Appropriate Characterization of ‘Heuristic’2 Inadequate Definitions2.1 A positive attempt2.2 Heuristics versus guaranteed correct outcomes3 A Taxonomy of Heuristics3.1 Stimulus-driven versus heuristic3.2 Perceptual versus cognitive heuristics3.3 Computational versus cognitive heuristics3.4 Methodological versus inferential heuristics3.5 Summary of distinctions4 Characterizing Cognitive Heuristics4.1 Heuristics as rules of thumb4.2 Beyond rules of thumb: exploiting information5 Concluding Remarks. (shrink)
How much of philosophical, scientific, and political thought is caught up with the idea of continuity? What if it were otherwise? This paper experiments with the disruption of continuity. The reader is invited to participate in a performance of spacetime (re)configurings that are more akin to how electrons experience the world than any journey narrated though rhetorical forms that presume actors move along trajectories across a stage of spacetime (often called history). The electron is here invoked as our host, an (...) interesting body to inhabit (not in order to inspire contemplation of flat-footed analogies between ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ worlds, concepts that already presume a given spatial scale), but a way of thinking with and through dis/continuity – a dis/orienting experience of the dis/jointedness of time and space, entanglements of here and there, now and then, that is, a ghostly sense of dis/continuity, a quantum dis/continuity. There is no overarching sense of temporality, of continuity, in place. Each scene diffracts various temporalities within and across the field of spacetimemattering. Scenes never rest, but are reconfigured within, dispersed across, and threaded through one another. The hope is that what comes across in this dis/jointed movement is a felt sense of différance, of intra-activity, of agential separability – differentiatings that cut together/apart – that is the hauntological nature of quantum entanglements. (shrink)
In times of crisis, when current theories are revealed as inadequate to task, and new physics is thought to be required—physics turns to re-evaluate its principles, and to seek new ones. This paper explores the various types, and roles of principles that feature in the problem of quantum gravity as a current crisis in physics. I illustrate the diversity of the principles being appealed to, and show that principles serve in a variety of roles in all stages of the crisis, (...) including in motivating the need for a new theory, and defining what this theory should be like. In particular, I consider: the generalised correspondence principle, UV-completion, background independence, and the holographic principle. I also explore how the current crisis fits with Friedman’s view on the roles of principles in revolutionary theory-change, finding that while many key aspects of this view are not represented in quantum gravity, the view could potentially offer a useful diagnostic, and prescriptive strategy. This paper is intended to be relatively non-technical, and to bring some of the philosophical issues from the search for quantum gravity to a more general philosophical audience interested in the roles of principles in scientific theory-change. (shrink)
The classic Lewis-Stalnaker semantics for counterfactuals captures that Sobel sequences are consistent sequences, for example: a.If Sophie had gone to the parade, she would have seen Pedro dance. b.But if Sophie had gone to the parade and been stuck behind someone tall, she would not have seen Pedro dance. But reverse a sequence like this one and it no longer sounds so good, which is surprising on the classic semantics. This observation motivated Kai von Fintel and Thony Gillies to propose (...) dynamic semantic accounts of counterfactual conditionals. Subsequently, Sarah Moss defended the classic semantics against the charge that it need be abandoned in the face of these order effects, arguing that the infelicity of the reverse sequences is pragmatic. I argue that both accounts are ultimately untenable, but each account has strengths. Seeing what works and what doesn't in each account points the way to the right positive view. With this in mind, I defend a contextualist account of counterfactuals that takes conversational relevance to play a central role. (shrink)
According to Margaret Cavendish the entire natural world is essentially rational such that everything thinks in some way or another. In this paper, I examine why Cavendish would believe that the natural world is ubiquitously rational, arguing against the usual account, which holds that she does so in order to account for the orderly production of very complex phenomena (e.g. living beings) given the limits of the mechanical philosophy. Rather, I argue, she attributes ubiquitous rationality to the natural world in (...) order to ground a theory of the ubiquitous freedom of nature, which in turn accounts for both the world's orderly and disorderly behavior. (shrink)
Social scientists have offered a number of explanations for why Americans commonly deny that human-caused climate change is real. In this paper, I argue that these explanations neglect an important group of climate change deniers: those who say they are on the side of science while also rejecting what they know most climate scientists accept. I then develop a “nature of science” hypothesis that does account for this group of deniers. According to this hypothesis, people have serious misconceptions about what (...) scientific inquiry ought to look like. Their misconceptions interact with partisan biases to produce denial of human-caused climate change. After I develop this hypothesis, I propose ways of confirming that it is true. Then I consider its implications for efforts to combat climate change denial and for other cases of public rejection of science. (shrink)
In seeking an answer to the question of what it means for a theory to be fundamental, it is enlightening to ask why the current best theories of physics are not generally believed to be fundamental. This reveals a set of conditions that a theory of physics must satisfy in order to be considered fundamental. Physics aspires to describe ever deeper levels of reality, which may be without end. Ultimately, at any stage we may not be able to tell whether (...) we've reached rock bottom, or even if there is a base level – nevertheless, I draft a checklist to help us identify when to stop digging, in the case where we may have reached a candidate for a final theory. Given that the list is – according to (current) mainstream belief in high-energy physics – complete, and each criterion well-motivated, I argue that a physical theory that satisfies all the criteria can be assumed to be fundamental in the absence of evidence to the contrary (i.e., I argue that the necessary conditions are jointly sufficient for a claim of fundamentality in physics). (shrink)
ABSTRACTTeachers in Asia are often perceived to occupy passive roles as citizens, subject to collectivist goals which take precedence over the interests of the individual. This assessment typically stems from a liberal-democratic perspective, which prioritises the individual as autonomous and self-responsible. While many endeavours have been undertaken by scholars outside education research to debunk the simplistic understanding of Asian thinking as passive, there remains a lack of attention to the distinctive features of Asian cultures and thought within the field of (...) citizenship education. This article aims to provide a more nuanced understanding of citizenship education in Singapore, and challenge the perceived passivity of teachers in Asia by exploring—particularly from a Confucian perspective—how a group of social studies teachers made sense of citizenship. We identify three emergent themes from the interview samples: Relationality, Harmony and Criticality and discuss them accordingly. (shrink)
Ethics education can potentially be supplemented through the use of video games. This article proposes a novel framework, which helps educators choose games to be used for ethics education purposes. The EPIC Framework is derived from a number of classic moral development, learning, and ethical decision-making models, including frameworks and theories associated with games and ethics, as well as prior empirical and theoretical research literature. The EPIC Framework consists of seven ethics education goals, and 12 strategies associated with ethics education, (...) which are also present in video games. Each of the framework’s categories is described in detail, and the limitations of the framework are also discussed. (shrink)
Drawing a framework from institutional and legitimacy theory, supplemented by concepts from the accounting literature, this study uses longitudinal crosssectional and cross-national data on over 500 firms listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) to empirically test whether these firms are strategic in their philanthropy as indicated by their measurement of the impact of their philanthropic activities along three dimensions -society, business, and reputation and stakeholder satisfaction. It is predicted that the variables' company size, amount of philanthropic expenditure, region (...) and industry influence the extent to which the various impact dimensions of philanthropy are measured. Though unexpected considering the lack of common practice in impact measurement, it is found that between 62 and 76% of the DJSI firms measure some sort of impact of their philanthropic activities, mostly impact on society and impact on reputation and stakeholder satisfaction. The number of firms that measure impact increases over the years and so does the number of firms that measure multiple dimensions of impact. Consist with our predictions, we find that larger firms and firms with relatively higher philanthropic expenditures are more likely to measure impact. Moreover, firms in the financial sector and firms from Europe and North America are also more likely to measure impact of their philanthropic activities. (shrink)
Between 1653 and 1655 Margaret Cavendish makes a radical transition in her theory of matter, rejecting her earlier atomism in favour of an infinitely-extended and infinitely-divisible material plenum, with matter being ubiquitously self-moving, sensing, and rational. It is unclear, however, if Cavendish can actually dispense of atomism. One of her arguments against atomism, for example, depends upon the created world being harmonious and orderly, a premise Cavendish herself repeatedly undermines by noting nature’s many disorders. I argue that her supposed difficulties (...) with atomism expose a deeper tension in her work between two fundamental metaphysical commitments each of which has substantial philosophical support: her monist theory of the material world (which maintains that there exists just one natural substance which is the single principal cause) and her occasional theory of causation (which requires multiple finite principal causes in nature -- causes that might be considered individual substances). Her monism undermines atomism while her theory of occasional cause seems to rest on a conception of nature that would be especially friendly to atomism. I argue further that we can solve this tension within a Cavendishian framework in such a way as to preserve her theory of causation and her monism, but that this solution depends upon our taking her monism in a particular (and weak) form. I finally note that we can best make sense of her unique and interesting form of monism by acknowledging her social-political motivations in addition to her motivations in natural philosophy. (shrink)
I suspect the answer to the question in the title of this paper is no. But the scope of my paper will be considerably more limited: I will be concerned with whether certain types of considerations that are commonly cited in favor of dynamic semantics do in fact push us towards a dynamic semantics. Ultimately, I will argue that the evidence points to a dynamics of discourse that is best treated pragmatically, rather than as part of the semantics.
We hypothesised that belief in conspiracy theories would be predicted by the general tendency to attribute agency and intentionality where it is unlikely to exist. We further hypothesised that this tendency would explain the relationship between education level and belief in conspiracy theories, where lower levels of education have been found to be associated with higher conspiracy belief. In Study 1 participants were more likely to agree with a range of conspiracy theories if they also tended to attribute intentionality and (...) agency to inanimate objects. As predicted, this relationship accounted for the link between education level and belief in conspiracy theories. We replicated this finding in Study 2, whilst taking into account beliefs in paranormal phenomena. These results suggest that education may undermine the reasoning processes and assumptions that are reflected in conspiracy belief. (shrink)
We live in an increasingly globalizing world, in which countries are closely linked by international trade and investment ties. Cross-cultural comparative studies of national values and ethics have attracted growing research interest in recent years, because shared practices, values and ethical standards depend on shared beliefs. However, the findings of such studies have been unable to reach a consensus on the impact of culture on ethics-related attitudes and behavior. Empirically, many "cross–cultural" differences reported by previous studies might actually stem from (...) cross-national differences. In order to partially fill this gap, this study advocates an analytical framework that isolates the role of cultural and national differences in order to test their relationship to individual level variables. Within this framework, we test competing hypotheses based on both cultural and national contexts by comparing groups of Chinese and American respondents together with a "bridging group" of Chinese Chinese-Americans. Theoretically, this contextual approach helps resolve the debate on the role of culture, by showing that culture plays a far more important role in shaping value orientations than the national background. Specifically, the two ethnic Chinese groups had many cultural values in common, and differed significantly from the Caucasian group. Implications are discussed. (shrink)
An effective theory in physics is one that is supposed to apply only at a given length scale; the framework of effective field theory describes a ‘tower’ of theories each applying at different length scales, where each ‘level’ up is a shorter-scale theory. Owing to subtlety regarding the use and necessity of EFTs, a conception of emergence defined in terms of reduction is irrelevant. I present a case for decoupling emergence and reduction in the philosophy of physics. This paper develops (...) a positive conception of emergence, based on the novelty and autonomy of the ‘levels’, by considering physical examples, involving critical phenomena, the renormalisation group, and symmetry breaking. This positive conception of emergence is related to underdetermination and universality, but, I argue, is preferable to other accounts of emergence in physics that rely on universality. (shrink)
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)
In this paper, I argue that Margaret Cavendish’s account of freedom, and the role of education in freedom, is better able to account for the specifics of women’s lives than are Thomas Hobbes’ accounts of these topics. The differences between the two is grounded in their differing conceptions of the metaphysics of human nature, though the full richness of Cavendish’s approach to women, their minds and their freedom can be appreciated only if we take account of her plays, accepting them (...) as philosophical texts alongside her more standard philosophical treatises. (shrink)