The Subjection Of Women: A Feminist Appraisal Of John Stuart Mill’s Last Work. -- By: Kamilla Ludwig

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 16:4 (Fall 2002)
Article: The Subjection Of Women: A Feminist Appraisal Of John Stuart Mill’s Last Work.
Author: Kamilla Ludwig

The Subjection Of Women:
A Feminist Appraisal Of John Stuart Mill’s Last Work.

Kamilla Ludwig

Kamilla Ludwig originally presented this paper at the 2001 meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. It was part of her senior project at Denver Seminary, from which she graduated in Spring 2002 with an M.A. in philosophy. She currently works full-time in the “Stat” laboratory at St. Joseph Hospital in Denver and is pursuing research for a series of detective/mystery novels. Her other primary area of interest is women’s history, culture, and philosophy. Copyright @ 2001 by Kamilla Ludwig.

John Stuart Mill was a Victorian political and social philosopher. He received a unique and rigorous education starting at the age of three when he learned Greek and went on to be lauded as the first great interdisciplinary mind of the modern world. His most famous works are his Autobiography, Utilitarianism, and On Liberty. Utilitarianism is Mill’s statement of Utilitarian ethics, the principle of which is that the right action is that action which will tend to increase happiness and decrease un-happiness. By happiness Mill means pleasure, both physical and mental, and by unhappiness, pain. Mill’s goal was a collectivist one, the improvement of society.

The means Mill thought best to achieve his goal included a large measure of individual liberty, the sociopolitical philosophy expressed in On Liberty. He brings together these two strains of his thought, individualist means to a collectivist end, in The Subjection of Women. This last work serves as a sort of case study of Mill’s thought. His goal here, as elsewhere, is the improvement of society by using individualist means, in this case the loosing of women’s social and legal fetters.

In reviewing Mill’s book The Subjection of Women, I wish to make three points and use them to build a partial case in support of feminism, using Mill’s social theory.

First, a word or two about terms. I believe the terms describing the two most frequently voiced opinions in the evangelical church are misleading. Complementarians believe in equality to the degree that we are all equal before God. Egalitarians believe that men and women complement each other, but not to the same extent as complemen-tarians. Therefore, I have chosen to use here what I believe are more accurately descriptive terms.

The term patriarchalist will be used when referring to those who believe that Scripture limits positions of authority in the home and church to men only. Other terms used for this position include traditionalist and hierarchicalist; I believe patriarchalist to be more accurate, however, as it denotes ...

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