Mary Wollstonecraft's Nurturing Liberalism: Between an Ethic of Justice and Care
Keywords:Mary Wollstonecraft, feminism, liberal feminism
Contemporary feminist scholars have devoted much attention to analiyzing the relationship between justice and care theories but little to the ideas of early feminist authors. I bring the political philosophy of the Mary Wollstonecraft to bear on contemporary justice/care debates in order to highlight her unique contribution. Although usually interpreted as a classical liberal or republican thinker, Wollstonecraft is better understood as a feminist care theorist. She aimed at a revolutionary transformation of liberal society by emphasizing the importance of care-giving duties. Unlike some recent feminist scholars, however, she still recognized an important role for justice. She argued that before personal care-giving activities could transform the political, political justice had first to be extended to personal caring relationships. Wollstonecraft's political philosophy thus provides a feminist model for synthesizing justice and care theories and represents an innovative reformulation of classical liberal and republican ideas that incorporates the care perspective.
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