In chapter 2, Mill attacks women’s status in the marriage contract, which he sees as a kind of legal bondage. All property and any income derived from marriage belonged to the husband, even if the wife had brought the property to the marriage. Additionally, only the father had legal rights over his children. A woman who left her husband could take nothing with her, not even her children. Any action she might take must have her husband’s tacit approval. Indeed, Mill sees the bondage of marriage as a more profound slavery than slavery itself, not because a woman might be treated as badly as any slave—though he does not neglect the physical power the husband has over his wife and the potential for physical abuse—but because “hardly any slave . . is a slave at all hours and all minutes.” A wife and mother, on the other hand, is available at all times to all people. No activity a wife does is considered important enough to protect her from being interrupted to meet the needs of others.
proach to understanding the properties of persons (their traits, desires, abilities, interests) which is not only very popular and historically important, but also intuitively plausible. It begins with a division of human properties into three categories. Natural properties are those persons have in virtue of being members of a natural kind, and they originate in the structures definitive of the species. Other properties are unnatural, in that they result from abnormal structures. And some properties are nonnatural (or social) in that they represent replacements, modifications, or extensions brought about by the social environment operating on the basic Such is the ontology. It suggests immediately the epistemology for assigning observed properties to the three categories, in particular to the natural and the nonnatural. The central epistemological thesis is a counterfactual: natural properties are those that persons would exhibit were they never influenced by a social environment. John Stuart Mill, in his The Subjection of Women, asserts this view: "the artificial state superinduced by society disguises the natural tendencies of the thing which is the subject of observation. ." Suppose "all artificial causes of difference to be withdrawn," the "natural character would be revealed."2
The central epistemological thesis implies two methodological rules and a corollary for discovering which properties are natural and which are nonnatural. First, the natural properties are those which are common among persons who live in different social environments. Properties which are observed in all types of social environment are just those properties which are most resistent to social influences and which would be observed regardless of social influences. Similarly, if observed properties vary as social environments vary, this is evidence for their being nonnatural. (Mill does, I think, assert the first rule in the Logic.)3 Second, the properties of persons who live in environments containing relatively few social influences are more likely to be natural than those of persons who live in environments containing many. But most important for Mill is the corollary, which says that differences in natural properties between two sub-groups of the species are those differences which are observed even though people in both sub-group...
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4. The demonstration that observed differences are natural is incomplete unless some foundation in structural differences is found for them. Therefore, another necessary condition must be added to this formulation of the corollary: the observed differences must correlate with systematic structural differences. But even this is not enough (see fn. 3). Ideally, the infrastructural mechanism, whereby structural differences become manifest as observed behavioral differences, must also be described.
5. Subjection, 47.
6. Ibid., 105. Partial statements of the corollary can also be found in Subjection, 23-4, 38-9, 48-9. Harriet Taylor also asserts the corollary in her essay "Enfranchisement of Women," Westminster Review 55 (1851), 295-6.
7. In Subjection, Mill does assert that, strictly-speaking, it cannot be known that any of the observed differences between men and women are natural unless women have equal maximal freedom with men and are treated the same, but he also clearly believes that women are not naturally different from men, at least in intellectual ability and related (important) skills. His argument is that the observed differences between Read Full Essay Click the button above to view the complete essay, speech, term paper, or research paper