A Feminist Method for Political Theory
In Rethinking Obligation, Nancy J. Hirschmann provides an innovative analysis of liberal obligation theory that uses feminism as a theoretical method for rethinking political obligations from the bottom up. Tracing the concept of political obligation from Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau to Rawls, Pitkin, and Walzer, she concludes that simply "bringing women in" to liberal theory cannot sufficiently resolve problems posed by gender difference. Rather, the definition of obligation as voluntary must be rethought from a specifically feminist perspective. Hirschmann develops a feminist standpoint of connection and mutual recognition which is based upon the gender psychology of object relations theorists including Nancy Chodorov and moral psychologists such as Carol Gilligan.
In articulating a feminist method for political theory, Hirschmann skillfully brings together theoretical categories and methods previously seen as opposed: feminist standpoint and postmodernism, gender psychology and anti-essentialism, empiricism and interpretivism. Rethinking Obligation mounts a vital challenge to central aspects of contemporary liberal theory.