MillSubjectionWomenNotes

MillSubjectionWomenNotes - John Stuart Mill, On the...

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John Stuart Mill, On the Subjection of Women Mill’s goal is to prove his core belief that, “the principle which regulates the existing social relations between the two sexes — the legal subordination of one sex to the other — is wrong itself, and now one of the chief hindrances to human improvement; and that it ought to be replaced by a principle of perfect equality, admitting no power or privilege on the one side, nor disability on the other.” He notes the only objection isn’t rational, it’s prejudice, “So long as opinion is strongly rooted in the feelings, it gains rather than loses instability by having a preponderating weight of argument against it… here are so many causes tending to make the feelings connected with this subject the most intense and most deeply-rooted of those which gather round and protect old institutions and custom, that we need not wonder to find them as yet less undermined and loosened than any of the rest by the progress the great modern spiritual and social transition; nor suppose that the barbarisms to which men cling longest must be less barbarisms than those which they earlier shake off.” He notes that the burden of proof, following both the procedures of courts and debate, ought be on those who wish to restrict and deny liberties in all cases, “The a priori presumption is in favour of freedom and impartiality.” Because of prejudice, however, “It is equally unavailing for me to say that those who deny to women any freedom or privilege rightly allow to men, having the double presumption against them that they are opposing freedom and recommending partiality, must held to the strictest proof of their case, and unless their success be such as to exclude all doubt, the judgment ought to against them.” He attributes, in large part, the restricted reason of modern man, and his tendency to accept “instinct” over argument. Mill believes we accept all sorts of inadmissible evidence, “The generality of a practice is in some cases a strong presumption that it is, or at all events once was, conducive to laudable ends. This is the case, when the practice was first adopted, or afterwards kept up, as a means to such ends, and was grounded on experience of the mode in which they could be most effectually attained. If the authority of men over women, when first established, had been the result of a conscientious comparison between different modes of constituting the government of society; if, after trying various other modes of social organisation — the government of women over men, equality between the two, and such mixed and divided modes of government as might be invented — it had been decided, on the testimony of experience, that the mode in which women are wholly under the rule of men, having no share at all in public concerns, and each in private being under the legal obligation of obedience to the man with whom she has associated her destiny, was the arrangement most conducive to the happiness and well-being of both…the
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This note was uploaded on 12/20/2010 for the course POLI SCI 365 taught by Professor Buzby during the Spring '10 term at Rutgers.

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MillSubjectionWomenNotes - John Stuart Mill, On the...

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