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The Social and Political Philosophy of Mary Wollstonecraft$
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Sandrine Bergès and Alan M. S. J. Coffee

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198766841

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198766841.001.0001

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Representation in Mary Wollstonecraft’s Political Philosophy

Representation in Mary Wollstonecraft’s Political Philosophy

Chapter:
(p.166) 9 Representation in Mary Wollstonecraft’s Political Philosophy
Source:
The Social and Political Philosophy of Mary Wollstonecraft
Author(s):

Lena Halldenius

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198766841.003.0010

Wollstonecraft was a republican thinker and so it is reasonable to expect in her writings a notion of political society as representative, but how? After placing Wollstonecraft in relation to contemporary republicanism, we can see that Wollstonecraft’s notion of representation operates on different levels of right: constitutional and political. The “what” that is represented is, respectively, authority of the people and the perspectives of groups or classes. The people as an abstract, idealized union, so crucial for many republicans, makes sense only on the constitutional level. The political field of law-making and policy is an agonistic one where representation has to be practical and no unity is to be expected beyond class or group interests. That is why women and the labouring classes need to have their own interests represented by representatives who share their interests and perspectives.

Keywords:   Wollstonecraft, representation, republicanism, people, class, public voice, constitution, politics

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