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Chapter 5

PSY426H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: Mary Wollstonecraft

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Chapter 5: Women’s Rights and Judgment
Issues in the 1848 about women’s rights, women are entitled to the rights deemed natural and
inalienable by men
They claimed the rights of citizenship in a professedly democratic state
They wanted the premise of equality social contract and natural rights
No special consideration for women but all men and women are created equal and are
endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights like: life, liberty and the pursuit of
Mary Wollstonecraft argued that liberty rather than leading to license is the mother of virtue
Self development is a higher duty than self sacrifice
The accusation of selfishness is the cardinal sin in the ladder of feminine virtue that reach
toward an ideal of perfect devotion not only to god but to men
Early views were that the development of women would serve to promote the general good
Women started to exercise reason and exert control over conditions effecting their lives which
led to various reasons for social reform in the latter half of the nineteenth century ranging from
social purity movements for temperance and public help to the more radical movements for
free love and birth control
They wanted the vote to include their voices in the shaping of history and to change prevailing
practices that were damaging to present and future generations
The twentieth century has witness the legitimation of many of the rights the early feminists
Early feminists sought education as critical for women if they were to live under their own
Some people view women’s self development as selfishness with a fear that freedom of women
will lead to an abandonment of responsibility in relationships
“the shifting relationship between passion and duty is clear to no man who is capable of
apprehending it since the mysterious complexity of our life cannot be laced up in formulas;
moral judgment cannot be bound by general rules but must instead be informed by a life vivid
and intense enough to have created a wide fellow fielding with all that is human” – George Eliot
(moral questions of responsibility and choice)
A second author wrote a book and the character strived to create a new ladder, a new virtue;
one that could include activity, sexuality, and survival without abandoning the old virtues of
responsibility and care (all about inventing a morality that condones me. Though by doing so I
risk condemning all that I have been)
The moral issue of goodness is pitted against the adult questions of responsibility and choice
The ethics of self sacrifice is in direct conflict of the concept of rights
It was a concern that fighting for independence caused problems with relationships with others
Morality can be expanded as the sense of concern for another human being and sense of
concern for yourself
This idea was abandoned later and became more about maintaining personal integrity
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