Spinoza and the Equality of Women

Abstract   On the last page of A Political Treatise Spinoza denies that women are subject to men by convention only. He excludes females from participation in politics on the grounds that they are “by nature … necessarily” (that is, by the logical and causal necessity which are for him equivalent) unequal to men “in strength of mind and intellectual ability”. This claim is examined in relation to four of Spinoza’s foundational principles. It is found to be in tension with all four, and with the psychological, social, political and moral deductions Spinoza makes from them, and is moreover an internally weak argument.

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