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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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Wollstonecraft and the Properties of (Anti-) Slavery

Wollstonecraft and the Properties of (Anti-) Slavery

(p.117) 6 Wollstonecraft and the Properties of (Anti-) Slavery
The Social and Political Philosophy of Mary Wollstonecraft

Laura Brace

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores some of the connections between Wollstonecraft’s ideas about slavery and property and anti-slavery arguments of the 1790s about slavery as a state of war, the illegitimate exercise of arbitrary power, and freedom as intrinsically connected to owning a property in the person. There were a plurality of languages about slavery and property available to Wollstonecraft, some of it Lockean, others more radical or republican, and she made intriguing use of them all in the context of a wider political discourse about encroaching executive despotism and arbitrary political power. By locating Wollstonecraft’s ideas about slavery and property in the context of this anti-tyrannicism and related anti-slavery arguments about improvement, property in the person, humanity, barbarity, and degradation, this chapter draws out the implications of her arguments for the development of the public sphere and a sense of belonging to civil society in the late eighteenth century.

Keywords:   Wollstonecraft, anti-slavery, slavery, arbitrary power, property, Locke

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