The article investigates whether Hobbes’s political theory gives us reason to expect the systematic subordination of women. It argues that who dominates whom is a matter of victory in the quest to pull allies into ordered alliances. The primary means of gaining allies—force and wiles—depend on both skill-fitness and affective fitness. The analyses suggest that it is sex-linked and gender-linked differences in affective fitness—particularly in the intensity of men’s desire to use religious wiles—that most plausibly explain the subjection of women, both across the spectrum of states of nature and within civil societies. Although Hobbes’s political theory enables us to make sense of how it happened, there is nothing in that theory that either necessitates or should cause us to expect the systematic subordination of women.
Despite the vast amount of scholarship on Hobbes’s philosophy, his writings on sexuality have gone largely unexplored. This paper offers an interpretation of Hobbes’s writing on that topic. I argue that if we pay attention to his remarks on sexuality, we can retrieve a coherent account of sexual morality, one that takes a strong stance against doctrines of natural sexual morality, replacing them with a commitment to positivism about sexual norms. With this reconstruction of the Hobbesian view of sexual morality in hand, I conclude by exploring some of its implications from a contemporary feminist perspective.
This article challenges the idea that Hobbes presents a negative anthropology and shows, to the contrary, that there is a thick web of social relations in his state of nature and laws of nature. It considers the contradiction between human natural equality claimed by Hobbes, and female subjection that de facto characterizes most of his passages on gender relations. The key to this puzzle is found in comparison of the notions of conquest and consent, and of acquisition and institution, comparisons that establish a similarity between paternal authority and despotic dominion. A step towards the solution is provided by the hypothesis that the divide between “vainglorious” and “moderate” is gendered, with women more disposed to moderation than men. This can be explained by the idea that, “for society’s sake,” women in the state of nature appreciate more the advantages of long-term cooperation, even at the price of some subordination.
Intercultural Trade, Commercial Litigation, and Legal Pluralism
The book series
Mediterranean Reconfigurations is devoted to the analyses of historical change in the Mediterranean over a long period (15th - 19th centuries), challenging totalizing narratives that “Westernize” Mediterranean history as having led naturally to European domination in the 19th and 20th centuries. In reality, the encounters of Muslim, Jewish, Armenian and Protestant merchants and sailors with legal customs and judicial practices different from their own gave rise to legal and cultural creativity throughout the Mediterranean. Through the prism of commercial litigation, the series thus offers a more accurate and deeper understanding of the practices of intercultural trade, in a context profoundly shaped by legal pluralism and multiple and overlapping spaces of jurisdiction. Comparative case studies offer empirically-based indicators for both regional and more general processes, here called "Mediterranean reconfigurations", e.g. the changing interplay and positioning of individual and institutional actors on different levels in a variety of commercial and legal contexts.
The Political Economy of the Spectacle and Postmodern Caste, John Asimakopoulos analyzes the political economy of the society of the spectacle, a philosophical concept developed by Guy Debord and Jean Baudrillard. Using the analytical tools of social science, while historicizing, Asimakopoulos reveals that all societies in every epoch have been and continue to be caste systems legitimized by various ideologies. He concludes there is no such thing as capitalism (or socialism)—only a caste system hidden behind capitalist ideology. Key features of the book include its broad interdisciplinary-nonsectarian approach with quantitative and qualitative data.
The Political Economy of the Spectacle and Postmodern Caste is well written and clear, making it accessible to the general public.