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Political ThinkersFrom Socrates to the Present

Political Thinkers: From Socrates to the Present (3rd edn)

David Boucher and Paul Kelly
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date: 29 September 2022

p. 35119. Wollstonecraftlocked

p. 35119. Wollstonecraftlocked

  • Carole Pateman

Abstract

This chapter examines Mary Wollstonecraft's political thought. Wollstonecraft advances the argument that the private and public are interrelated and that God has given reason to both sexes. Among her ideas: ‘natural’ qualities, including masculinity and femininity, are socially constructed; reason and virtue require cultivation; private and public virtue demands non-sexually differentiated principles and standards, and freedom, equal rights, and political representation for women and men; tyranny in private, especially in marriage, undermines political virtue and active citizenship; education must be reformed, marriage transformed into an equal relationship between loving friends, and wives must have economic independence. After providing a short biography of Wollstonecraft, the chapter analyses her views on nature, sentiment, reason, men's rights and women's freedom, private virtue, and public order. It shows how Wollstonecraft's insights challenge standard conceptions of democracy.

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