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)
Mary Shepherd and the Causal Relation - Part One -/- Part One gives context to the life and work of Lady Mary Shepherd. It weaves together the stories of her ancestors, her own stories and the wider social, historical and philosophical context. The aim is to evoke a world from which to mark the emergence of Mary Shepherd, Scotland’s first female philosopher.
According to some scholars, Mary Astell’s feminist programme is severely limited by its focus on self-improvement rather than wider social change. In response, I highlight the role of ‘virtuous friendship’ in Astell’s 1694 work, A Serious Proposal to the Ladies. Building on classical ideals and traditional Christian principles, Astell promotes the morally transformative power of virtuous friendship among women. By examining the significance of such friendship to Astell’s feminism, we can see that she did in fact aim to bring (...) about reformation of society and not just the individual. (shrink)
In the 1706 third edition of her Reflections upon Marriage, Mary Astell alludes to John Locke’s definition of slavery in her descriptions of marriage. She describes the state of married women as being ‘subject to the inconstant, uncertain, unknown, Arbitrary Will of another Man’ (Locke, Two Treatises, II.22). Recent scholars maintain that Astell does not seriously regard marriage as a form of slavery in the Lockean sense. In this paper, I defend the contrary position: I argue that Astell does (...) seriously regard marriage as a form of slavery for women and that she condemns this state of affairs as morally wrong. I also show that, far from criticizing Locke, Astell draws on key passages in his Thoughts concerning Education to urge that women be educated to retain their liberty. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Mary Shelley (1797–1851) developed a ‘Romantic Spinozism’ from 1817 to 1848. This was a deterministic worldview that adopted an ethical attitude of love toward the world as it is, must be, and will be. Resisting the psychological despair and political inertia of fatalism, her ‘Romantic Spinozism’ affirmed the forward-looking responsibility of people to love their neighbors and sustain the world, including future generations, even in the face of seeming apocalypse. This history of Shelley’s reception of Spinoza begins with (...) the fragment of the otherwise lost translation of the Theologico-Political Treatise (1670) on which she collaborated. It extends through her journals, letters, poetry, and her second great work of speculative fiction after Frankenstein (1818): a post-apocalyptic novel set in the year 2100, The Last Man (1826). Through a creative synthesis of Spinoza with Plato, Cicero, Wollstonecraft, and Glasite Christianity, Shelley developed an anti- apocalyptic conception of love as apocatastasis: a cyclical restoration of an ethical attitude of stewardship toward the whole world and its necessity. Through this recovery of a vital chapter in the history of European ideas, Shelley emerges as a central figure in Spinozan philosophy, especially the ethics and political philosophy of love. (shrink)
Lady Mary Shepherd’s critique of Hume’s account of causation, his worries about knowledge of matters of fact, and the contention that it is possible for the course of nature to spontaneously change relies primarily on three premises, two of which – that objects are merely bundles of qualities and that the qualities of an object are individuated by the causal powers contributed by those qualities – anticipate contemporary metaphysical views in ways that she should be getting credit for. The (...) remaining premise – that it is impossible for an object to begin to exist uncaused – seems more old fashioned. I argue that Shepherd can do without her old-fashioned premise and that she provides the materials for arguing that her remaining premises demonstrate a stronger anti-Humeanism than is maintained even by the contemporary representatives of those views, even though she may have to concede more to Humeanism than she would like. (shrink)
Mary Midgley argued that philosophy was a necessity, not a luxury. It's difficulties lie partly in the fact that, when doing it, we are struggling not only against the difficulty of the subject matter, but also certain tendencies within ourselves. I focus on two - one-way reductionism and myopic specialisation.
Nearly two hundred years ago, Mary Wollstonecraft wrote what is considered to be the first major work of feminist political theory: A Vindication of the Rights of Women . Much has been written about this work, and about Wollstonecraft as the intellectual pioneer of feminism, but the actual substance and coherence of her political thought have been virtually ignored. Virginia Sapiro here provides the first full-length treatment of Wollstonecraft's political theory. Drawing on all of Wollstonecraft's works and treating them (...) thematically rather than sequentially, Sapiro shows that Wollstonecraft's ideas about women's rights, feminism, and gender are elements of a broad and fully developed philosophy, one with significant implications for contemporary democratic and liberal theory. The issues raised speak to many current debates in theory, including those surrounding interpretation of the history of feminism, the relationship between liberalism and republicanism in the development of political philosophy, and the debate over the canon. For political scientists, most of whom know little about Wollstonecraft's thought, Sapiro's book is an excellent, nuanced introduction which will cause a reconsideration of her work and her significance both for her time and for today's concerns. For feminist scholars, Sapiro's book offers a rounded and unconventional analysis of Wollstonecraft's thought. Written with considerable charm and verve, this book will be the starting point for understanding this important writer for years to come. (shrink)
There are close parallels between Frank Jackson's case of black-and-white Mary and David Lewis's case of the two omniscient gods. This essay develops and defends what may be called “the ability hypothesis” about the knowledge that the gods lack, by adapting Lewis's ability hypothesis about the knowledge that Mary acquires. What the gods might lack despite their propositional omniscience is not any distinctive kind of information, but certain abilities of introspection. The motivating idea is that knowledge one acquires (...) by exercising introspective abilities cannot fail to be knowledge about oneself or indexical knowledge. So in order to envisage the gods' epistemic situation coherently, we need to assume that they lack those introspective abilities. But once we recognize that, it turns out that positing a special kind of information is a gratuitous addition. The two gods' ignorance simply consists in their lack of introspective abilities. (shrink)
This short paper grew out of an observation—made in the course of a larger research project—of a surprising convergence between, on the one hand, certain themes in the work of Mary Hesse and Nelson Goodman in the 1950/60s and, on the other hand, recent work on the representational resources of science, in particular regarding model-based representation. The convergence between these more recent accounts of representation in science and the earlier proposals by Hesse and Goodman consists in the recognition that, (...) in order to secure successful representation in science, collective representational resources must be available. Such resources may take the form of (amongst others) mathematical formalisms, diagrammatic methods, notational rules, or—in the case of material models—conventions regarding the use and manipulation of the constituent parts. More often than not, an abstract characterization of such resources tells only half the story, as they are constituted equally by the pattern of (practical and theoretical) activities—such as instances of manipulation or inference—of the researchers who deploy them. In other words, representational resources need to be sustained by a social practice; this is what renders them collective representational resources in the first place. (shrink)
Mary Astell is best known today as one of the earliest English feminists. This book sheds new light on her writings by interpreting her first and foremost as a moral philosopher—as someone committed to providing guidance on how best to live. The central claim of this work is that all the different strands of Astell’s thought—her epistemology, her metaphysics, her philosophy of the passions, her feminist vision, and her conservative political views—are best understood in light of her ethical objectives. (...) To support that claim, this work examines Astell’s programme to bring about a moral transformation of character in her fellow women. This ethical programme draws on several key aspects of seventeenth-century philosophy, including Cartesian and Neoplatonist epistemologies, ontological and cosmological proofs for the existence of God, rationalist arguments for the soul’s immateriality, and theories about how to regulate the passions in accordance with reason. At the heart of Astell’s philosophical system lies a theory of virtue, including guidelines about how to cultivate generosity of character, a benevolent disposition towards others, and the virtue of moderation. This book explains the foundations of that moral theory, and then examines how it shapes and informs Astell’s response to male tyranny within marriage and to political tyranny in the state. It concludes with some reflections on the historiographical implications of writing Mary Astell back into the history of philosophy. (shrink)
Although Catharine Macaulay was a contract theorist and early feminist her philosophy is not based on a concept of liberty like that of Hobbes, but on a notion of individual liberty as self government close to that accepted by Mary Astell. This raises the question of whether criticisms of liberal feminism which assume that it is rooted in Hobbes's suspect notion of freedom and consent may miss there mark.
In The Women of Grub Street (1998), Paula McDowell highlighted the fact that the overwhelming majority of women’s texts in early modern England were polemical or religio-political in nature rather than literary in content. Since that time, the study of early modern women’s political ideas has dramatically increased, and there have been a number of recent anthologies, modern editions, and critical analyses of female political writings. As a result of Patricia Springborg’s research, Mary Astell (1668-1731) has risen to prominence (...) as one of the most astute female political commentators of her day. Springborg argues for Astell’s importance as one of the first systematic critics of the philosopher John Locke, and she interprets Astell’s political thought as a reaction to Lockean Whig politics in the early reign of Queen Anne. But some scholars claim that it is a mistake to think that Astell was chiefly preoccupied with Locke, and others suggest that reading Astell in relation to Locke alone can distort our understanding of her larger political theory. In this chapter, I argue that a more accurate picture of Astell’s political outlook emerges by examining a little studied essay, ‘A Prefatory Discourse to Dr D’Aveanant’ in her 1704 work Moderation Truly Stated. In this critique of Charles Davenant’s Essays upon Peace at Home, and War Abroad (1704), Astell provides a commentary on the political ruthlessness of Niccolo Machiavelli in his Discourses on Livy. Astell’s comments reveal that, in an age in which the political vocabulary was turning to the language of rights, property, and liberty, she still subscribed to the ancient world view, and the ethical-political language of virtue and the good. My intention is to show that these ethical dimensions of Astell’s political thought are consonant with her wider philosophy. (shrink)
Mary Midgley's book Utopias, Dolphins and Computers will be needed to recharge our more philosophical approach to life as new problems present themselves to humanity at an accelerated rate. The most dangerous attitude to these challenges, Midgley argues, is an anti-intellectualism that fails to see that all approaches presuppose tacit or hidden assumptions, that is a philosophy. One part of our tacit philosophy that is now breaking up is the social contract, according to Mary Midgley in Utopias, Dolphins (...) and Computers It needs tempering with a vision of people in relationships bordering on the organic—ideas with their roots in ecology—rather than as fundamentally isolated atoms in contractual union. (shrink)
Considering the whole corpus of Mary Wollstonecraft’s writings, this paper focuses on her view of rights, seen as moral claims and rhetoric tools. Firstly, it is argued that, in the author’s perspective, their technical and judicial dimension is peripheral, where “rights” are human features within a religious conception of life. Secondly, some consequent aspects are analysed, such as the rights’ effectiveness, their nature, their content and their entitlement.
In her book, Moral Status, Mary Anne Warren defends a comprehensive theory of the moral status of various entities. Under this theory, she argues that animals may have some moral rights but that their rights are much weaker in strength than the rights of humans, who have rights in the fullest, strongest sense. Subsequently, Warren believes that our duties to animals are far weaker than our duties to other humans. This weakness is especially evident from the fact that Warren (...) believes that it is frequently permissible for humans to kill animals for food. Warren’s argument for her view consists primarily in the belief that we have inevitable practical conflicts with animals that make it impossible to grant them equal rights without sacrificing basic human interests. However, her arguments fail to justify her conclusions. In particular, Warren fails to justify her beliefs that animals do not have an equal right to life and that it is permissible for humans to kill animals for food. (shrink)
: If liberal theory is to move forward, it must take the political nature of family relations seriously. The beginnings of such a liberalism appear in Mary Wollstonecraft's work. Wollstonecraft's depiction of the family as a fundamentally political institution extends liberal values into the private sphere by promoting the ideal of marriage as friendship. However, while her model of marriage diminishes arbitrary power in family relations, she seems unable to incorporate enduring sexual relations between married partners.
In 1997, five decades after the publication of the landmark Hempel-Oppenheim article "Studies in the Logic of Explanation"(, 1970) Wesley Salmon published Causality and Explanation, a book that re-addresses the issue of scientific explanation. He provided an overview of the basic approaches to scientific explanation, stressed their weaknesses, and offered novel insights. However, he failed to mention Mary Hesse's approach to the topic and analyze her standpoint. This essay brings front and center Hesse's approach to scientific explanation formulated in (...) the 1960s and argues that rereading Hesse's account one can overcome the criticisms addressed towards another influential theory of explanation that of Bas van Fraassen's. Furthermore, it could bring the traditional philosophy of science into a fruitful conversation with science and technology studies and gender studies in science, technology and medicine. (shrink)
In 1997, five decades after the publication of the landmark Hempel-Oppenheim article "Studies in the Logic of Explanation" Wesley Salmon published Causality and Explanation, a book that re-addresses the issue of scientific explanation. He provided an overview of the basic approaches to scientific explanation, stressed their weaknesses, and offered novel insights. However, he failed to mention Mary Hesse's approach to the topic and analyze her standpoint. This essay brings front and center Hesse's approach to scientific explanation formulated in the (...) 1960s and argues that rereading Hesse's account one can overcome the criticisms addressed towards another influential theory of explanation that of Bas van Fraassen's. Furthermore, it could bring the traditional philosophy of science into a fruitful conversation with science and technology studies and gender studies in science, technology and medicine. (shrink)
During a smallpox epidemic in April 1721, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu asked Dr. Charles Maitland to "engraft" her daughter, thus instigating the first documented inoculation for smallpox (_Variola_ virus) in England. Engrafting, or variolation, was a means of conferring immunity to smallpox by placing pus taken from a smallpox pustule under the skin of an uninfected person to create a local infection. The introduction of infectious viral matter, however, could trigger fullblown smallpox, and the practice was controversial for both (...) this reason and the pervasive conviction that it was immoral to intentionally infect a human body. Eventually, engrafting was phased out altogether in favor of vaccination, a much safer procedure established by Edward Jenner in the late eighteenth century. Montagu's decision was influenced by her experiences in Constantinople, where she had spent a year, and where engrafting was commonplace. As a smallpox survivor herself, Montagu had taken an interest in Turkish inoculation practices, and had had her son Edward engrafted while in Turkey. She was not the first person to import the idea of smallpox inoculation to England, nor the first English person to have their child inoculated (other English children had been inoculated while visiting Turkey), yet she quickly became known for importing and popularizing smallpox inoculation. At the request of her acquaintances, she took her inoculated daughter with her on a round of visits into elite households to demonstrate the safety of the procedure. The reputation she gained was both positive and negative: monuments were erected in her honor, encomiastic poems were published, and Voltaire declared her "a woman of as fine a genius, and endued with as great a strength of mind as any of her sex in the British Kingdoms"; however, anti-inoculationists ridiculed her, some society figures regarded her warily, and Alexander Pope satirized her in his poetry.
Montagus pioneering role in the smallpox debate is undoubtedly significant: she instigated the first smallpox inoculation on English soil, and she was largely responsible for making the practice acceptable in elite circles. My interest in this essay is in the nature and significance of Montagus reputation as an inoculation pioneer. I will argue that her reputation was based on the particular combination of her social position as a Whig and an aristocratic woman; her interest in progressive and enlightened forms of social, political, and scientific thought; her standing in influential literary circles; and, not least, the force of her own personality. In broad terms, I offer Montagus involvement in the smallpox debate as a case study in a new kind of public role becoming available to elite women in the early eighteenth century a role that caused considerable discomfort among her peers and in the medical community, and one that stimulated a widespread controversy in print publications of the day. (shrink)
This article discusses the work of Dr Mary Louisa Gordon, who was appointed as the first English Lady Inspector of Prisons in 1908, and remained in post until 1921. Her attitude towards and treatment of women prisoners, as explained in her 1922 book Penal Discipline, stands in sharp contrast to that of her male contemporaries, and the categorisation of her approach as ‘feminist’ is reinforced by her documented connections with the suffragette movement. Yet her feminist and suffragist associations also (...) resulted in the marginalisation and dismissal of her work, such that Mary Gordon and Penal Discipline are virtually unknown today. Nevertheless, her insights into the position and needs of women prisoners retain a striking contemporary relevance. (shrink)
Although ‘virtue’ is a complex idea in Wollstonecraft’s work, one of its senses refers to the capacity and willingness to govern one’s own conduct rationally, and to employ this ability in deliberating about matters of public concern. Wollstonecraft understands virtue to be integral to the meaning of freedom rather than as merely instrumentally useful for its preservation. It follows, therefore, that a free republic must be a virtuous one. The first virtue of social institutions, we might say, is ‘virtue’ itself. (...) In a virtuous republic all citizens, from no matter which social group, are able to represent themselves in law and in public debate. This is a demanding condition, requiring not just suitably robust republican institutions but an open and accommodating public culture in which sufficient numbers of citizens are positively engaged in ensuring that the available stock of background ideas and values is representative, diverse and inclusive. (shrink)
Combining the liberalism of Locke and the "civic humanism" of Republicanism, Mary Wollstonecraft explored the need of women for coed and equal education with men, economic independence whether married or not, and representation as citizens in the halls of government. In doing so, she foreshadowed and surpassed her much better known successor, John Stuart Mill. Ten feminist scholars prominent in the fields of political philosophy, constitutional and international law, rhetoric, literature, and psychology argue here that Wollstonecraft, by reason of (...) the scope and complexity of her thought, belongs in the "canon" of political philosophers along with Rousseau and Burke, her contemporaries, both of whom she strenuously engaged in political debate. These essays explore the many aspects of her thought that resound so tellingly to the modern woman, including her groundbreaking attempt to be completely self-sufficient. The final bibliographical essay outlines the changing interpretations of Wollstonecraft's work over the past two hundred years and evaluates her standing among political theorists today. Contributors are Maria J. Falco, Penny A. Weiss, Virginia Sapiro, Virginia L. Muller, Wendy Gunther-Canada, Carol H. Poston, Miriam Brody, Moira Ferguson, Louise Byer Miller, and Dorothy McBride Stetson. (shrink)
This open-ended anthology is a journey into the very canon that Mary Daly has argued to be patriarchal and demeaning to women. This volume deauthorizes the official canon of Western philosophy and disrupts a related story told by some feminists who claim that Daly’s work is unworthy of re-reading because it contains fatal errors. The editors and contributors attempt to prove that Mary Daly is located in the Western intellectual tradition. Daly may be highly critical of conventional Western (...) epistemological and theological traditions, but she nevertheless appropriates themes “out-of-context” for the building of her own systematic philosophy. The following are just a few of the many themes explored in this volume: • the question of subjectivity understood as an ongoing process of be-coming • the ambiguity of the need for feminists of colonial nations to speak out about violence against women in other parts of the world while that speaking carries with it the stamp of a colonial location • the territoriality of lesbian and women’s space • the theological dimensions of twentieth-century Western philosophy. Contributors are Wanda Warren Berry, Purushottama Bilimoria, Debra Campbell, Molly Dragiewicz, Frances Gray, Amber L. Katherine, AnaLouise Keating, Anne-Marie Korte, María Lugones, Geraldine Moane, Sheilagh A. Mogford, Laurel C. Schneider, Renuka Sharma, and Marja Suhonen. (shrink)
For over 40 years, Mary Midgley made a forceful case for the relevance and importance of philosophy. With characteristic wit and wisdom, she drew special attention to the ways in which our thought influences our everyday lives. Her wide-ranging explorations of human nature and the self; our connections with animals and the natural world; and the complexities of morality, gender, science, and religion all contributed to her reputation as one of the most expansive and compelling moral philosophers of the (...) twentieth century. -/- Mary Midgley: An Introduction is the first substantive introduction to Midgley's influential philosophy on the human condition. -/- This volume, supplemented by original interviews with Midgley, outlines the concepts and perspectives for which she is best known and illuminates the philosophical problems to which she devoted her life's work. -/- Table of Contents -/- 1. Philosophical Plumbing 2. Human Nature and the Self 3. Morality and Wholeness 4. Animals and Why They Matter 5. Our Connection to Nature 6. Gender and Fragmentation 7. Science in Context 8. Religion, Science, and Complexity 9. Afterword: One World, But A Big One -/- Bibliography Index. (shrink)
This ar ti cle ex tends, from a philo soph i cal and an thro po log i cal point of view, the re cent dis - cus sions as to what is met a phoric. Lan guage phi - los o phers have con trib uted to the un der stand ing of the na ture and func tion of met a phors, but their com ments have been tra ..
In what follows I will briefly address (1) Mahowald's work on Josiah Royce, (2) her advocacy for "cultural feminism" and its implications for American philosophy and work still to be done, (3) her promotion of a critical pragmatism and the need to provide a pragmatist critique not only of gender injustice but all forms of injustice, and (4) Mahowald's argument for the strategy of "standpoint theory," a strategy that offers great promise for future work in American philosophy.
Feared and admired in equal measure, Mary Midgely has carefully, yet profoundly challenged many of the scientific and moral orthodoxies of the twentieth century. The Essential Mary Midgley collects for the first time the very best of this famous philosopher's work, described by the Financial Times as "commonsense philosophy of the highest order." This anthology includes carefully chosen selections from her best-selling books, including Wickedness, Beast and Man, Science and Poetry and The Myths We Live By . It (...) provides a superb and eminently accessible insight into questions she has returned to again and again in her renowned sharp prose, from the roots of human nature, reason and imagination to the myths of science and the importance of holism in thinking about science and the environment. It offers an unrivalled introduction to a great philosopher and a brilliant writer, and also includes a specially written foreword by James Lovelock. (shrink)
Mary is confined to a black-and-white room, is educated through black-and-white books and through lectures relayed on black-and white television. In this way she learns everything there is to know about the physical nature of the world. She knows all the physical facts about us and our environment, in a wide sense of 'physical' which includes everything in completed physics, chemistry, and neurophysiology, and all there is to know about the causal and relational facts consequent upon all this, including (...) of course functional roles. If physicalism is true, she knows all there is to know. For to suppose otherwise is to suppose that there is more to know than every physical fact, and that is just what physicalis. (shrink)
The paper intends to analyse developing of the literary representation of women in Elizabethan and Jacobean culture, forming an integral part of female authorship during this period. However, instead of taking aim at the male poetic tradition, the genius of Wroth is to absorb it and use it for her own ends. Reclaiming the virtues of the woman through constancy, she upends the conventional views of the woman. Thus, Wroth strengthens the autonomy of the woman by allowing her to make (...) the decision to accept a role subordinate to man. (shrink)
In the _World Library of Educationalists_, international experts themselves compile career-long collections of what they judge to be their finest pieces – extracts from books, key articles, salient research findings, major theoretical and practical contributions – so the world can read them in a single manageable volume, allowing readers to follow the themes of their work and see how it contributes to the development of the field. Mary James has researched and written on a range of educational subjects which (...) encompass curriculum, pedagogy and assessment in schools, and implications for teachers´ professional development, school leadership and policy frameworks. She has written many books and journals on assessment, particularly assessment for learning and is an expert on teacher learning, curriculum, leadership for learning and educational policy. Starting with a specially written introduction in which Mary gives an overview of her career and contextualises her selection, the chapters are divided into three parts: Educational Assessment and Learning Educational Evaluation and Curriculum Development Educational Research and the Improvement of Practice Through this book, readers can follow the different strands that Mary James has researched and written about over the last three decades, and clearly see her important contribution to the field of education. (shrink)
One common response to the knowledge argument is the ability hypothesis. Proponents of the ability hypothesis accept that Mary learns what seeing red is like when she exits her black-and-white room, but they deny that the kind of knowledge she gains is propositional in nature. Rather, she acquires a cluster of abilities that she previously lacked, in particular, the abilities to recognize, remember, and imagine the color red. For proponents of the ability hypothesis, knowing what an experience is like (...) simply consists in the possession of these abilities. Criticisms of the ability hypothesis tend to focus on this last claim. Such critics tend to accept that Mary gains these abilities when she leaves the room, but they deny that such abilities constitute knowledge of what an experience is like. To my mind, however, this critical strategy grants too much. Focusing specifically on imaginative ability, I argue that Mary does not gain this ability when she leaves the room for she already had the ability to imagine red while she was inside it. Moreover, despite what some have thought, the ability hypothesis cannot be easily rescued by recasting it in terms of a more restrictive imaginative ability. My purpose here is not to take sides in the debate about physicalism, i.e., my criticism of the ability hypothesis is not offered in an attempt to defend the anti-physicalist conclusion of the knowledge argument. Rather, my purpose is to redeem the imagination from the misleading picture of it that discussion of the knowledge argument has fostered. (shrink)
Even long after their formal exclusion has come to an end, members of previously oppressed social groups often continue to face disproportionate restrictions on their freedom, as the experience of many women over the last century has shown. Working within in a framework in which freedom is understood as independence from arbitrary power, Mary Wollstonecraft provides an explanation of why such domination may persist and offers a model through which it can be addressed. Republicans rely on processes of rational (...) public deliberation to highlight and combat oppression. However, where domination is primarily social rather than legal or political (such as where cultural attitudes, traditions and values exert an arbitrary and inhibiting force) then this defence against domination is often negated. Prejudice, she argues, ‘clouds’ people’s ability to reason and skews debate in favour of the dominant powers, thereby entrenching patterns of subjection. If they are to be independent, then, citizens require not only political rights but a platform from which to add their perspectives and interests to the background social values which govern political discussion. (shrink)
Mary Winsor (2003) argues against the received view that pre-Darwinian taxonomy was characterized mainly by essentialism. She argues, instead, that the methods of pre-Darwinian taxonomists, in spite of whatever their beliefs, were that of clusterists, so that the received view, propagated mainly by certain modern biologists and philosophers of biology, should at last be put to rest as a myth. I argue that shes right when it comes to higher taxa, but wrong when it comes the most important category (...) of all, the species category. (shrink)
The article investigates the philosophical foundations and details of Mary Wollstonecraft's criticism of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's views on the education and nature of women. I argue that Wollstonecraft's criticism must not be understood as a constructionist critique of biological reductionism. The first section analyzes the differences between Wollstonecraft's and Rousseau's views on the possibility of a true civilization and shows how these differences connect to their respective conceptions of moral psychology. The section shows that Wollstonecraft's disagreement with Rousseau's views on (...) women was rooted in a broad scope of philosophical disagreement. The second section focuses on Rousseau's concept of nature, and I argue that Rousseau was neither a biological determinist nor a functionalist who denied that nature had any normative significance. The section ends with a discussion of Wollstonecraft's criticism of Rousseau's application of the distinction between the natural and the artificial. The third section focuses on Wollstonecraft's critique of Rousseau's claim that there are different standards for the perfectibility of men and women. The article concludes with a critical discussion of the claim that Aristotle would have provided Wollstonecraft with the philosophical tools she needed for her criticism of Rousseau. (shrink)
It is widely accepted that physicalism faces its most serious challenge when it comes to making room for the phenomenal character of psychological experience, its so-called what-it-is-like aspect. The challenge has surfaced repeatedly over the past two decades in a variety of forms. In a particularly striking one, Frank Jackson considers a situation in which Mary, a brilliant scientist who knows all the physical facts there are to know about psychological experience, has spent the whole of her life in (...) a black and white room. He asks, What will happen when Mary is released from her black and white room or is given a colour television monitor? Will she learn anything or not? It seems just obvious that she will learn something about the world and our visual experience of it. But then it is inescapable that her previous knowledge was incomplete. But she had all the physical information. (Jackson 1986: 130). (shrink)
Mary Astell’s theory of friendship has been interpreted either as a version of Aristotelian virtue friendship, or as aligned with a Christian and Platonist tradition. In this paper, I argue that Astell’s theory of friendship is determinedly anti-Aristotelian; it is a theory of spiritual friendship offered as an alternative to Aristotelian virtue friendship. By grounding her conception of friendship in a Christian–Platonist metaphysics, I show that Astell rejects the Aristotelian criteria of reciprocity and partiality as essential features of the (...) friendship bond and that she develops a theory of friendship that is neither reciprocal nor partial. Further, I argue that Astell’s theory of friendship advances her feminist aims by providing a justification for female–female spiritual bonds in contradistinction to female–male marriage bonds. Astell argues that the female–female bond of spiritual friendship is sanctioned by God, and is, therefore, a divinely authorized alternative to the male–female bond of marriage. Through her theory of spiritual friendship, Astell marks out a central place for female–female bonds and provides women with a justification for resisting marriage. (shrink)
In the contemporary debate on moral status, it is not uncommon to find philosophers who embrace the following basic moral principle: -/- The Principle of Full Moral Status: The degree to which an entity E possesses moral status is proportional to the degree to which E possesses morally relevant properties until a threshold degree of morally relevant properties possession is reached, whereupon the degree to which E possesses morally relevant properties may continue to increase, but the degree to which E (...) possesses moral status remains the same. -/- One philosopher who has contributed significantly to the contemporary debate on moral status and embraces the Principle of Full Moral Status is Mary Anne Warren. Warren holds not only that it is possible for some entities to possess full moral status, but that some entities actually do, e.g., normal adult human beings. I argue that two of Warren’s primary arguments for the Principle of Full Moral Status—the Argument from Pragmatism and the Argument from Explanatory Power—are significantly flawed. (shrink)