The problem of women in Hobbes's Leviathan Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Mitchell, Megan.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Philosophy
  • Hobbes is sometimes interpreted as a proto-feminist, in that men and women are seemingly equal in the state of nature. A few scholars have argued that men and women are equally likely to establish political society. Carole Pateman denies this latter claim and maintains that despite their equal natural abilities, women become men's servants. She argues that women are weakened by their attempts to protect their children and thus, are easily conquered by men. Against Pateman, I argue that her interpretation violates psychological egoism, an essential feature of Hobbes's understanding of human nature. I advance a weak equality reading, in which men and women are equal in prudence but men are generally stronger. Eventually, men are able to conquer women and establish male dominion through contracts. Hobbes is a proto-feminist because the subordination of women is not justified by women's natural weakness, but through contracts to which women must consent.
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  • In Copyright
  • Preston-Roedder, Ryan
  • Open access

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