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Broad, Jacqueline, , Karen Detlefsen. (eds.) Women and Liberty, 1600-1800: Philosophical Essays
2017, Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Francesca Bruno, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: This book addresses the theme of liberty as it is found in the writing of women philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, or as it is theorized with respect to women and their lives. It covers both theoretical and practical philosophy, with chapters grappling with problems in the metaphysics of free will (both human and God’s), the liberty (or lack thereof) of women in their moral, personal lives as well as their social-political, public lives, and the interactions between the metaphysical and normative issues. The chapters draw upon writing of both women and men, and notably, upon a wide range of genres, including more standard philosophical treatises as well as polemical texts, poetry, plays, and other forms of fiction. As such, this book alerts the reader to the wide range of conceptions of what counts as a philosophical text in the early modern period. Several chapters also grapple with the relation between early modern and contemporary ways of thinking about the theme of women and liberty, thus urging the reader to appreciate the continuing importance of these earlier philosophers in the history of philosophy and of feminism. Ultimately, the chapters in this text show how crucial it is to recover the too-long forgotten views of female and women-friendly male philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, for in the process of recovering these voices, our understanding of philosophy in the early modern period is not only expanded, but also significantly altered toward a more accurate history of our discipline.

Comment: This volume covers ethical, political, metaphysical, and religious notions of liberty, including chapters on women’s ideas about the metaphysics of free will and chapters examining the topic of women’s freedom (or lack thereof) in their moral and personal lives. Some of the papers in this collection could be assigned individually in an undergraduate early modern survey course; or it could be one of the main texts for a more advanced (undergraduate or graduate) course on the topic of liberty/freedom, from a variety of philosophical perspectives (ethical, political, metaphysical, and religious).

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Broad, Jacqueline, , Karen Green. A History of Women’s Political Thought in Europe, 1400–1700
2009, Cambridge University Press
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Karen Green

Publisher’s Note: This ground-breaking book surveys the history of women’s political thought in Europe from the late medieval period to the early modern era. The authors examine women’s ideas about topics such as the basis of political authority, the best form of political organisation, justifications of obedience and resistance, and concepts of liberty, toleration, sociability, equality, and self-preservation. Women’s ideas concerning relations between the sexes are discussed in tandem with their broader political outlooks; and the authors demonstrate that the development of a distinctively sexual politics is reflected in women’s critiques of marriage, the double standard, and women’s exclusion from government. Women writers are also shown to be indebted to the ancient idea of political virtue, and to be acutely aware of being part of a long tradition of female political commentary. This work will be of tremendous interest to political philosophers, historians of ideas, and feminist scholars alike.

Comment: Offers an overview of women’s works advocating for the spiritual and political equality of women and men from Christine de Pizan’s Book of the City of Ladies to Mary Astell’s Serious Proposal to the Ladies. Embeds these works within the wider traditions of political philosophy and in particular debates about virtue, liberty, religious toleration, equality, and good government.

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Olsaretti, Serena, , . Liberty, Desert and the Market: A Philosophical Study
2004, Cambridge University Press.
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Added by: Carl Fox, Contributed by:

Abstract: Are inequalities of income created by the free market just? In this book Serena Olsaretti examines two main arguments that justify those inequalities: the first claims that they are just because they are deserved, and the second claims that they are just because they are what free individuals are entitled to. Both these arguments purport to show, in different ways, that giving responsible individuals their due requires that free market inequalities in incomes be allowed. Olsaretti argues, however, that neither argument is successful, and shows that when we examine closely the principle of desert and the notions of liberty and choice invoked by defenders of the free market, it appears that a conception of justice that would accommodate these notions, far from supporting free market inequalities, calls for their elimination. Her book will be of interest to a wide range of readers in political philosophy, political theory and normative economics.

Comment: Attacks libertarian defences of market distributions on the grounds that they are either justified or the result of free choices. Provides a good counterpoint to Nozick’s entitlement theory in particular, and draws out important issues on the relationship between choice, voluntariness, and responsibility. Olsaretti’s own account of voluntariness, which she develops in the later chapters is hugely influential. Would make good reading for an in-depth treatment of libertarianism and/or Nozick’s entitlement theory. Would also provide very substantial further reading.

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