Feminist Interpretations of John Locke

Edited by Nancy J. Hirschmann, Kirstie M. McClure

Hardback - £78.95

Publication date:

01 March 2007

Length of book:

352 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271029528

This collection considers one of the most important figures of the modern canon of political philosophy, John Locke. A physician by training and profession, Locke not only wrote one of the most important and well-known treatises of the modern canon, but also made important contributions in the areas of seventeenth-century law and public policy, epistemology, philosophy of language, religion, and economics.

There has been a long-standing debate in feminist scholarship on Locke as to whether this early founder of modern liberal thought was a strong feminist or whether he ushered in a new, and uniquely modern, form of sexism. The essays grapple with this controversy but also move beyond it to the meaning of gender, the status of femininity and masculinity, and how these affect Locke’s construction of the state and law.

The volume opens with three of the early “classic” feminist essays on Locke and follows them with reflective essays by their original authors that engage Locke with issues of globalization and international justice. Other essays examine Locke’s midwifery notes, his treatise on education, his writings on Christianity, his contributions to poor-law policy, his economic writings, and his Essay Concerning Human Understanding. In addition to essays by leading feminist theorists, the volume also includes essays by some leading Locke scholars for whom gender is not normally a primary focus, so that the volume should speak to a wide range of scholarly interests and concerns.

Besides the editors, the contributors are Teresa Brennan, Melissa Butler, Terrell Carver, Carole Pateman, Carol Pech, Gordon Schochet, Mary Lyndon Shanley, Jeremy Waldron, Joanne Wright, and Linda Zerilli.

“As a whole, this volume provides a challenging and engaging contribution to current debates regarding the adequacy of liberal egalitarianism for radical social and political reform. These are “hot button” issues in feminist scholarship, which makes this volume valuable not only to advancing Locke scholarship but for feminist scholarship as well.”

—Patricia Sheridan, Dialogue