By Force or Wiles: Women in the Hobbesian Hunt for Allies and Authority

In: Hobbes Studies
Author: S.A. Lloyd 1
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  • 1 University of Southern California, USA

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.