Catharine Macaulay's Republican Conception of Social and Political Liberty

Political Studies (Forthcoming)

24 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2016

See all articles by Alan Coffee

Alan Coffee

King's College London – The Dickson Poon School of Law; King's College London

Date Written: September 26, 2016

Abstract

Catharine Macaulay was one of the most significant republican writers of her generation. Although there has been a revival of interest in Macaulay amongst feminists and intellectual historians, neo-republican writers have yet to examine the theoretical content of her work in any depth. Since she anticipates and addresses a number of themes that still preoccupy republicans, this neglect represents a serious loss to the discipline. I examine Macaulay’s conception of freedom, showing how she uses the often misunderstood notion of virtue to reconcile the individual and collective elements inherent in the republican model. In her own analysis of the deep-rooted social obstacles that stand in the way of women becoming free, Macaulay identifies a serious problem that confronts all republicans, namely how to secure freedom in the face of entrenched structural imbalances that systematically disadvantage certain classes of person. In the end, I conclude that Macaulay herself cannot overcome the issues she raises. This in no way diminishes the importance of her work since her diagnosis is as relevant today as in her own time.

Keywords: Catharine Macaulay, Freedom, Independence, Republicanism, Feminism, Non-domination

Suggested Citation

Coffee, Alan, Catharine Macaulay's Republican Conception of Social and Political Liberty (September 26, 2016). Political Studies (Forthcoming). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2843712

Alan Coffee (Contact Author)

King's College London – The Dickson Poon School of Law ( email )

Somerset House East Wing
Strand
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.alancoffee.com

King's College London ( email )

Strand
London, England WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

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