phil 275h Paper 1

phil 275h Paper 1 - 713966879 Mill and Okin Women's...

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713966879 Mill and Okin Women’s equality is a relatively new topic of discussion in philosophy and it essentially began when John Stuart Mill argued for what he believed to be the possibility of perfect equality through legal equality in “The Subjection of Women” (1869). Mill proposed a conventional marriage system with a division of labor to be ideal for equality. However, Susan Okin in “Vulnerability by Marriage” (1989) reexamines what perfect equality is and the best marriage style to achieve it is. She proposes a marriage with a shared division of labor. Marriage with a shared division of labor offers women the best chance at true equality. And though Mill’s ideas were a great start towards equality for women, there is still a large need for changes to our legal and social practices beyond those that Mill envisioned. John Stuart Mill believed perfect equality could be achieved in a conventional marriage style with a sharp division of labor because with a division of labor each spouse has an equally important job, or family role. One stays home to manage the family while the other works full time as the breadwinner. i Each spouse works equally hard and for about as many hours as the other; the workload is of even time and importance and the reward for the work is theoretically the same. Mill does not consider actual earning (in real, tangible dollars) and potential earning (valuable labor without tangible dollars) to be of any significant difference. ii Thus each spouse is an equal, although separate, contributor to the family. Similar to a division of labor, Mill’s division of power places each spouse as a separate, although equal, “Executive Branch” of various parts of the household. iii Spouses divide responsibilities and powers among each other in a consensual, natural, effective, and thoughtful
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713966879 manner. Each partner has roughly the same amount of power as the other, but they have jurisdiction over different family matters. In Mill’s view of an ideal marriage men and women can, and should, be equals. Mill’s conventional family style offers equality because the division is determined in a consensual, thoughtful, and equal way. The marriage should have a gender neutral, flexible, and a separate but equal structure – once the structure is decided the two spouses are considered equals, but contribute in very separate and distinct ways. Mill believes women should be lawfully equal to men and have equal opportunity to enter the workforce and be the breadwinners if they so choose. Mill argues that labor roles should be gender neutral and flexible from family to family. Mill writes, “the utmost latitude ought to exist for the adaptation of general rules to individual suitabilities; and there ought to be nothing to prevent faculties exceptionally adapted to any other pursuit, from obeying their vocation notwithstanding marriage.” iv The division of labor and power should not be determined by gender, but by talent, capability, and preference. In fact, Mill believes that women can be as
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phil 275h Paper 1 - 713966879 Mill and Okin Women's...

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