"Women’s Political Thought in Europe 1700-1800" Public Lecture with Karen Green (Melbourne)
Tuesday, 2018/10/16, 18:15
As part of the international lecture series 2018/2019 of the SNF-Professorship Philosophy, Prof. Dr. Christine Abbt, at the University of Lucerne, Prof. Dr. Karen Green (University of Melbourne) will give a talk on the topic of "Women’s Political Thought in Europe 1700-1800".
Abstract:The Rights of Women and the Equal Rights of Men
It is generally accepted that claims for women’s rights arose after, and as a result of, the development of the theory of the equal rights of men. In support of the established view one can point to the fact that democracies in which men were enfranchised existed long before those in which women were granted the vote on an equal basis with men. Nevertheless, this paper explores a deviant account of the history of the modern discourse of equal natural rights, according to which, in fact, demands for the rights of women preceded the development of the theory of the equal rights of men. These demands did not involve women’s position within the state, but pertained to their position within marriage. I will call the thesis that claims for women’s rights within marriage preceded claims for the equal rights of men, the priority thesis. Ultimately, I argue, that while it is difficult to establish the priority thesis in its full generality, a weaker, contemporaneity thesis, can be supported. The modern concept of the equal rights of men developed in tandem with, and is intimately connected to, the emergence of modern companiate marriage. As a result, modern democratic theory came to acquire completely different philosophical foundations from those accepted by neo-Roman republicans. Rather than being essentially a theory of non-domination, the enlightenment democratic theory that resulted in Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman was based on a notion of positive liberty, thought of as virtuous self government, which also underpinned the earlier emergence of the modern understanding of marriage as, ideally, a relationship of friendship among equals.
- Karen Green: A History of Women’s Political Thought in Europe, 1700-1800, Cambridge University Press, 2014.
- Karen Green: Citizenship and Origins of Women’s History in the United States, in: Perspectives on Politics / 12, 2014
- Karen Green: Republic of Women: Rethinking the Republic of Letters in the Seventeenth Century, in: American Historical Review / 119, 2014.
|SNF-Förderprofessur Philosophie Universität Luzern
|18:15 - 19:45
open to the public
free of charge