`THE DEVELOPMENT OF WOMEN'S RIGHTS AS A MICROCOSM OF THE HISTORY OF HUMAN RIGHTS

 

1.  Internal Cultural Norms That Discriminate Against Women Are a Near Cultural Universal:  Examples from Hinduism[WJT1] , Judaism[WJT2] , Christianity[WJT3] , Islam[WJT4] , and other traditional cultures[WJT5] . 

 

2.  An Evolutionary Explanation of Such Norms[WJT6] .

 

3. A Predictable Result:  Women are regarded as less valuable than men[WJT7] . 

 

4.  Does the inequality of perceived value affect the quality of life?  Amartya Sen's Estimate of 100,000,000 Missing Girls and Women[WJT8] .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Moral Problem:  Is the unequal treatment of women morally justified?

 

1.  A culturally universal form of justification for coercion:  Paternalism[WJT9] . 

        Not just opponents of human rights opposed equal rights for women on paternalist grounds:  Locke, Rousseau, Kant, and almost all of the early advocates of human rights opposed equal rights for women[WJT10] . 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WOLLSTONECRAFT ON THE LIBERATION OF WOMEN FROM MALE PATERNALISM

 

        Wollstonecraft is responding to Rousseau's discussion of the education of women in Emile[WJT11] .

Wollstonecraft's "Utopian" dream: 

The opportunity for women to develop their humanity (their human capabilities, not merely the characteristics that make them attractive to men).  "If they are really capable of acting like rational creatures, let them not be treated like slaves."(105)

       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two aspects:

Negative right:  not to be subject to legal limits because of gender.  Examples:  Limitations on owning or inheriting property, on entering into contracts, and on entering professions[WJT12] .

Positive right:  to education and the other things that are necessary to develop their humanity[WJT13] . 

 

In 1792, Wollstonecraft knew what the reaction of men would be to her argument:  The limitations of woman's nature and the danger of "masculine women[WJT14] ". 

 

Wollstonecraft's response:  Being treated like a slave produces beings with the virtues of slaves[WJT15] .  She herself describes her hopes as "Utopian[WJT16] ".  Now, more than two hundred years later, they are no longer Utopian. 

 

The analogy between public rulers (e.g., kings) and private rulers (husbands[WJT17] ).

 

 

 

 

 

 

DO WOMEN IN PATRIARCHAL SOCIAL SYSTEMS VOLUNTARILY CONSENT?

ACTUAL VS. HYPOTHETICAL CONSENT

 

1.  The Problem Of Socially Enforced, Self-Serving Justifications for Patriarchal Norms:  How Consent Can Be Coerced[WJT18] . 

        (a) The analogy between lynchings and "honor" killings[WJT19] . 

        (b) The universality of violence against women by intimate partners[WJT20] . 

        (c) How economic dependence[WJT21]  motivates acquiescence:  the economic costs of not being attractive to men.

 

2.  How Self-Reinforcing Paternalism Makes Paternalist Justifications of Patriarchal Norms Stable:  A law or practice (e.g., denying women education) is an instance of self-reinforcing paternalism when it is justified paternalistically and one of its effects is to prevent its targets from being able to make their own judgments about what is good for them[WJT22] .  Thus, they have no basis to challenge the paternalistic justifications.

 

3.  Conventional Enforcement of a Practice Makes it Seem Voluntary.  The examples of footbinding and female genital cutting. 

 

THE EXAMPLE OF FEMALE GENITAL CUTTING

 

1.  The most extreme form:  Infibulation[WJT23] 

 

2.  Tamir's Argument[WJT24] :  FGC is bad, but in the same way that lots of practices in our culture are bad.  Analogies to braces, dieting, depilation, face lifts, fat pumping, and breast implants.  (Is the title "Hands Off Clitoridectomy" an accurate reflection of her argument?)

 

3.  The responses identify ways in which FGC is especially bad[WJT25] :  (1) informed consent; (2) nature and extent of harm (e.g. physical intrusion); (3) irreversibility; (4) sexual capability vs. sexual functioning; (5) wives as objects for husbands' gratification[WJT26] .

 

4.  Is there an important similarity between FGC and other practices, including those in our own culture?  What does Tamir mean that "the major problem with clitoridectomy is socio-political[WJT27] "?

 

 

 

 

5.  Conventional Enforcement of Oppressive Practices[WJT28] . 

 

6.  The Ineffectiveness of Top-Down Coercive Laws in Altering Self-Enforcing Practices.

 

7.  Tostan:  A Bottom-Up Alternative[WJT29] .

 

8.  Would female genital cutting be agreed to in the original position, behind the veil of ignorance?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social Equilibria and Conventional Enforcement of Social Practices

 

        A social practice in a community is part of a social equilibrium = It makes sense for each individual in the community to comply with the practice, given the expectation that all (or almost all) other members of the community will comply.

 

        There may be more than one social equilibrium.  For example, the practice of driving on the right side of the road and the practice of driving on the left side of the road are both social equilibria.  Explain why.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

        In some cases, there are two (or more) social equilibria that are not equally good.  For example, in the U.S. we use the British system for measuring length (inches, feet, yards, etc.).  As I explained in lecture, it might well be that we would all be better off if we all switched the metric system[WJT30] . 

 

        In game theory, this kind of situation is called an N-Person Assurance Game.  Even if it is true that we would all be better off if we switched to the metric system, most individuals would not be better off if they switched unilaterally (i.e., if they switched to the metric system while everyone else continued to use the British system).  Why not? 

 

        You should be able to explain why the practice of footbinding in China was and the practice of female genital cutting in many traditional societies is a social equilibrium.  If the practices are social equilibria, then women will voluntarily engage in them.  Does their voluntary participation in the practices morally justify them?  Explain[WJT31] . 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE SURPRISING RESEARCH OF

AMARTYA SEN AND OTHERS ON THE EFFECTS OF MORE EQUAL RIGHTS FOR WOMEN

 

1.  Differential female mortality.  What variables are most significant in eliminating it[WJT32] ?

 

2.  Fertility and Overpopulation:  Malthus[WJT33]  (coercion) vs. Condorcet[WJT34]  (education). 

        An example:  China's "one-child" policy[WJT35]  (reduction from 2.8 to 2.0) vs. Kerala, India (reduction from 3.0 to 1.8 during same time period)[WJT36] [WJT37] .

        What variables are most significant in the voluntary reduction of fertility[WJT38] [WJT39] ?

        What are the negative side effects of China's coercive policy?

 

        The history of the development of human rights is a history of eliminating socially enforced paternalistically justified systems of legal and cultural discrimination[WJT40] . 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FROM MICROCOSM TO MACROCOSM

 

The Development of Women's Rights Reveals A Problem with Normative Cultural Relativism About Internal Norms (NCRAIN): 

        Internal norms can define oppressive practices made stable by socially enforced self-serving justifications, self-reinforcing paternalism, and conventional enforcement.  In such cases, an outsider may be in a better position than an insider to morally criticize a culture's internal norms. 

 

        How is it possible to attain a standpoint from which to criticize a culture's internal norms?  By using the same standpoint from which it is possible to criticize a culture's external norms:  The Original Position behind the Veil of Ignorance.  The Original Position provides a standpoint from which it is possible to make epistemically modest criticisms of external and internal norms. 

 

        The historical development of human rights principles is the development of principles for morally criticizing oppressive practices based on socially enforced self-serving paternalistic justifications, usually augmented by conventional enforcement[WJT41] .

 

CAN THE ADVOCATE OF UNIVERSAL HUMAN RIGHTS AVOID MORAL IMPERIALISM?

 

The surprising answer is Yes.  It is true that the advocate of strictly universal human rights is metaphysically immodest.  Why?

 

To avoid moral imperialism, the advocate of strictly universal human rights must avoid epistemic immodesty and moral paternalism.  So if the advocate of advocate of strictly universal human rights is epistemically modest and a moral anti-paternalist, s/he will avoid moral imperialism.

 

        (1)  Epistemic modesty.  Recall the distinction between epistemic and metaphysical modesty (or immodesty).  I am epistemically modest when I say that even if there are universal moral truths, no individual is infallible about them—including me!  Indeed, I am quite sure that some of my moral views are mistaken.  We correct our mistakes through experience and especially through open dialogue with others:    The Dalai Lama shows us that the importance of human rights can be appreciated from within an Asian tradition.  Universal moral truths can be discovered from within any moral tradition. 

 

        (2) Moral Paternalism.  Tostan illustrates how an advocate of universal human rights can avoid moral paternalism.  Tostan is an educational organization, not an anti-FGC organization or an anti-domestic violence organization.  Tostan grounds its educational modules in education on human rights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 [WJT1]widowers remarry, widows are non-persons (movie "Water"; wife regards husband as a saint, not vice versa.

 [WJT2]Orthodox man daily thanks God that he was not born a woman.

 [WJT3]husbands rule over wives Genesis 3:16;

Need to discuss An Naim article fully:  Shari'a 319; qawama (guardianship) 326; al-hijab, the veil (burka) 327; polygamy, divorce, and inheritance 327;

In Reader, Goodwin begins on p. 36:   [WJT4]READ Goodwin, 43-56: 

 [WJT5]Brownmiller's 1975 study ("Against Our Will"):  women regarded as chattel

 [WJT6]Margo Wilson and Martin Daly (1992), "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Chattel".

 [WJT7] Goodwin, 44; Ginger Zakian; Erin: men eat first in Hindu family in Nepal; Pierina in Fiji "better dead than divorced"; Example of Mukhtaran Bibi in Pakistan:  raped woman's value is so reduced she dishonors the family and is expected to commit suicide or she will be killed by a family member; Read from Shelly Lundberg and Elaina Rose.

 [WJT8]1990 NYR, updated in 2003.

 [WJT9]Goodwin:  "woman is born without dignity" 263-264; 

 [WJT10]John and Abigail Adams; Time machine thought experiment: Ask Kant if women should be allowed to take philosophy courses.

Situation when J.S. Mill wrote "On the Subjection of Women" in 1869:  education, careers, property ownership, inheritance, even custody of children in divorce.

Right to vote:  NZ 1893, Switzerland 1971.

 [WJT11]Read 102

 [WJT12]107 free from all restraint

 [WJT13]104 capabililties

 [WJT14]103;

undergraduate degrees 58-42 and increasing; near majority of med school students; women's athletics and my sister's high school basketball team.

 [WJT15]analogy to slavery 105; servility 106, 107;

 [WJT16]106

 [WJT17]107

 [WJT18]Talbott 93; recall Rawls on the conditions for consent to be morally significant.

 

 [WJT19]Talbott 94;

Mukhtaran Bibi in Pakistan, used compensation to start schools that she attended.

 [WJT20]93

 [WJT21]Talbott 93: property and occupations.

 [WJT22]Goodwin 264 again.

 [WJT23]Talbott 96

 [WJT24]Read 16-17

 [WJT25]18-21: Martha Nussbaum, Jessica Neuwirth, Frances kamm, Robert P. George.

 [WJT26]Tamir's reply on 22.

 [WJT27]17; lead-in to discussion of CAPs

 [WJT28]footbinding, Chang quoted in Talbott 95; infibulationn 96; Molly Melching

 [WJT29]Talbott 108;

Read 108; 1997-2004, eliminated in 20% of villages that practiced it:  1687 villages as of March 2006 (30%)

(law banning FGC and child marriage (under 16) passed in Senegal in 1999, almost no effect.

As of Jan. 2007, FGC eliminated in approx. 40% of villages that practiced it in Senegal. 

 [WJT30]Example of Beta vs. VHS videotape format.  Example of computer operating systems (MS-DOS).

 [WJT31]Back to #7 on main outline above.

 [WJT32]women's agency:  literacy and education and labor force participation, 196-198; NOTE:  women's literacy and education also correlates with reductions in overall child mortality (not labor force participation).

 [WJT33]205, 213-215

 [WJT34]213-214

 [WJT35]2.8 to 2.0 from 1979 to 1991, 222;

 [WJT36]219-222, esp. 222;

 [WJT37]3.0 to 1.8 from 1979 to 1991, 222;

 [WJT38]women's agency again (literacy and employment outside the home), 195, 198 esp. 217, 218.

 [WJT39]also Grameen Bank, 201; and murder rate, 200;

 [WJT40] my sister Madeline

 [WJT41]1979 CEDAW, 660; U.S. has not ratified it (nor ERA).