In Gender, Class, and Freedom in Modern Political Theory, Nancy Hirschmann demonstrates not merely that modern theories of freedom are susceptible to gender and class analysis but that they must be analyzed in terms of gender and class in order to be understood at all. Through rigorous close readings of major and minor works of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, and Mill, Hirschmann establishes and examines the gender and class foundations of the modern understanding of freedom. Building on a social constructivist (...) model of freedom that she developed in her award-winning book The Subject of Liberty: Toward a Feminist Theory of Freedom, she makes in her new book another original and important contribution to political and feminist theory. Despite the prominence of "state of nature" ideas in modern political theory, Hirschmann argues, theories of freedom actually advance a social constructivist understanding of humanity. By rereading "human nature" in light of this insight, Hirschmann uncovers theories of freedom that are both more historically accurate and more relevant to contemporary politics. Pigeonholing canonical theorists as proponents of either "positive" or "negative" liberty is historically inaccurate, she demonstrates, because theorists deploy both conceptions of freedom simultaneously throughout their work. (shrink)
Feminist scholars have been remaking the landscape in political theory, and in this important book some of the most important feminist political theorists provide reconstructions of those concepts most central to the tradition of political philosophy. The goal is nothing less than the construction of a blueprint for a positive feminist theory.Many of these papers are completely new; others are extensions of important earlier work; two are reprints of classic papers. The result is a progress report on the continuing feminist (...) project to re-envision traditional political theory. As such, it constitutes essential reading not only for feminist thinkers but also for traditional philosophers and political theorists, who will need to come to terms with these contemporary critiques and re-readings. (shrink)
This paper examines the relationship between disability and “queerness.” I argue that the hostility frequently expressed against both disabled and queer individuals is a function of fear of the undecidability of the body. I draw on feminist, queer, and disability theory to help us understand this phenomenon and suggest that these different kinds of theories have a complementary relationship. That is, feminist and queer theory help us see how this fear works, disability theory helps us see why it exists.
Essays by leading figures in feminist theory and philosophy on John Locke. Includes reprints of three early foundational feminist analyses of Locke with authors' contemporary reflections on their earlier work, as well as articles about Locke on class, women's work, religion, reproduction, masculinity, and money.
The sixteen essays in Gender Struggles address a wide range of issues in gender struggles, from the more familiar ones that, for the last thirty years, have been the mainstay of feminist scholarship, such as motherhood, beauty, and sexual violence, to new topics inspired by post-industrialization and multiculturalism, such as the welfare state, cyberspace, hate speech, and queer politics, and finally to topics that traditionally have not been seen as appropriate subjects for philosophizing, such as adoption, care work, and the (...) home. (shrink)
_Feminist Interpretations of Thomas Hobbes _features the work of feminist scholars who are centrally engaged with Hobbes’s ideas and texts and who view Hobbes as an important touchstone in modern political thought. Bringing together scholars from the disciplines of philosophy, history, political theory, and English literature who embrace diverse theoretical and philosophical approaches and a range of feminist perspectives, this interdisciplinary collection aims to appeal to an audience of Hobbes scholars and nonspecialists alike. As a theorist whose trademark is a (...) compelling argument for absolute sovereignty, Hobbes may seem initially to have little to offer twenty-first-century feminist thought. Yet, as the contributors to this collection demonstrate, Hobbesian political thought provides fertile ground for feminist inquiry. Indeed, in engaging Hobbes, feminist theory engages with what is perhaps the clearest and most influential articulation of the foundational concepts and ideas associated with modernity: freedom, equality, human nature, authority, consent, coercion, political obligation, and citizenship. Aside from the editors, the contributors are Joanne Boucher, Karen Detlefsen, Karen Green, Wendy Gunther-Canada, Jane S. Jaquette, S. A. Lloyd, Su Fang Ng, Carole Pateman, Gordon Schochet, Quentin Skinner, and Susanne Sreedhar. (shrink)
Critical theorists should turn to disability as an important category of intersectional analysis. I demonstrate this through one type of critical theory—namely, feminism. Disability intersects with all vectors of identity, since disability affects people of all races, ethnicities, religions, genders, sexualities, and classes. Gender and sexuality are particularly illustrative because disability is configured in ways that map onto negative images of femininity. Additionally, the ways in which feminist and disability scholars undertake analysis are complementary. And because these two fields are (...) inherently interdisciplinary, dialogue between them can yield a richer notion of intersectionality within intersectionality. (shrink)
Here, Hirschmann responds to Marilyn Friedman and Susan J. Brison's comments on The Subject of Liberty: Toward a Feminist Theory of Freedom. She clarifies some aspects of her social construction argument, articulates the role of discourse and its relation to material reality, and explicates the potentially paradoxical case of support for women's choices when those choices produce harm.
The question 'Why should I obey the law?' introduces a contemporary puzzle that is as old as philosophy itself. The puzzle is especially troublesome if we think of cases in which breaking the law is not otherwise wrongful, and in which the chances of getting caught are negligible. Philosophers from Socrates to H.L.A. Hart have struggled to give reasoned support to the idea that we do have a general moral duty to obey the law but, more recently, the greater number (...) of learned voices has expressed doubt that there is any such duty, at least as traditionally conceived. (shrink)
Critiques social contract theory from the perspective of feminist psychoanalytic and psychological theory and develops an alternative feminist understanding of obligation as rooted in an epistemology of connection. Utilizes a feminist standpoint theory approach, and contains a discussion of the relevance of postmodernism to feminist philosophy in general and standpoint theory in particular.
This essay considers Denis Diderot’s Letter on the Blind for the Use of Those Who Can See as a work that can contribute to a disability political theory. By recounting the experiences of visually impaired persons in their own words, Diderot opens up possibilities for a disability politics of self-representation, maintaining that sighted persons should listen to blind persons’ accounts of their own experience rather than relying on their own imaginings and assumptions. By using blind experiences to challenge a philosophical (...) problem that intrigued philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries amid often-unsuccessful efforts to “cure” blindness through cataract surgeries, Diderot develops a powerful critique of the empiricist stress on vision as the primary source of perception and provides a remarkably forward-looking critique of disablist attitudes toward the blind. Through this philosophical discourse, he engages a political argument about the way knowledge is gathered, evaluated, and interpreted through relationships of power. (shrink)
This essay takes up an apparently minor idea of Susan Moller Okin's Justice, Gender, and the Family—that employers should split the paycheck of wage-earning husbands between employees and their stay-at-home spouses—and suggests that it actually threatens to undermine Okin's entire argument by perpetuating the most central cause of women's inequality by Okin's own account: the sexual division of labor. Recognizing the vital contributions that Okin's seminal work made and the impact that it had on the field of feminist philosophy and (...) political theory, the essay explores the ethical, political, and philosophical problems with this solution to the dire problems of gender inequality and injustice that Okin correctly identifies. The essay suggests that her commitment to liberalism may have resulted in a commitment to an inadequate vision of how to solve the problems of gender inequality, and offers other possibilities that Okin could have pursued instead that sustain her strong commitment to liberalism. (shrink)
The sexual division of labor and the social and economic value of women’s work in the home has been a problem that scholars have struggled with at least since the advent of the “second wave” women’s movement, but it has never entered into the primary discourses of political science. This paper argues that John Stuart Mill’s Political Economy provides innovative and useful arguments that address this thorny problem. Productive labor is essential to Mill’s conception of property, and property was vital (...) to women’s independence in Mill’s view. Yet since Mill thought most women would choose the “career” of wife and mother rather than working for wages, then granting that work productive status would provide a radical and inventive foundation for women’s equality. Mill, however, is ambiguous about the productive status of domestic labor, and is thereby representative of a crucial failure in political economic thought, as well as in egalitarian liberal thought on gender. But because Mill at the same time develops a conception of production that goes well beyond the narrow limits offered by other prominent political economists, he offers contemporary political scientists and theorists a way to rethink the relationship of reproductive to productive labor, the requirements for gender equality, and the accepted categories of political economy. (shrink)
Here, Hirschmann responds to Marilyn Friedman and Susan]. Brison's comments on The Subject of Liberty: Toward a Feminist Theory of Freedom. She clarifies some aspects of her social construction argument, articulates the role of discourse and its relation to material reality, and explicates the potentially paradoxical case of support for women's choices when those choices produce harm.