On Civic Friendship: Including Women in the State

On Civic Friendship: Including Women in the State

by Sibyl Schwarzenbach


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Women have performed the vast majority of often unpaid friendship labor for centuries. Embodying the freedom, equality, and ideals of the Constitution, civic friendship emerges as a necessary condition for genuine justice. Through a critical examination of social and political relationships from ancient times to today, Sibyl Schwarzenbach develops a truly innovative, feminist theory of the democratic state.

Beginning with an analysis of Aristotle's notion of political friendship, Schwarzenbach brings the philosopher's insights to bear on the social and political requirements of the modern state. She elaborates a conception of civic friendship that, with its ethical reproductive praxis, functions differently from male-centered notions of fraternity and, with its female participants, remains fundamentally separate from generalized, male-inflected claims of Marxist solidarity. Schwarzenbach also distinguishes civic friendship from feminist calls for public care, arguing that friendship, unlike care, not only is reciprocal but also seeks to establish and maintain equality.

Schwarzenbach concludes with various public institutions-economic, legal, and social-that can promote civic friendship without sacrificing crucial liberties. In fact, women's entrance into the public sphere en masse makes such ideals realistic within a competitive, individualistic society.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231147231
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 11/12/2009
Pages: 360
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Sibyl Ann Schwarzenbach is professor of philosophy at the City University of New York (Baruch College and the University Graduate Center). She is the author of many articles and the editor, with Patricia Smith, of Women and the United States Constitution: History, Interpretation, and Practice.

Table of Contents

Preface: A Paradox of Democracy
1. Introduction: Metaphor and Theory Change
Part I. The Past
2. The Forgotten Category of Ethical Reproduction
3. The Liberal Production Model
4. The Socialist Turn: Missing Faculties
Part II. The Present
5. The Possibility of a Modern Civic Friendship
6. Women, Democracy, and the U.S. Constitution
7. The State of Feminist Theory
8. Looking Outward: Beyond the National Security State

What People are Saying About This

James P. Sterba

Sibyl Schwarzenbach's attempt to show the importance of women's experiences and feminist theory for the justification of the democratic state is the most successful I have seen. Its achievement should be widely recognized and commented upon by feminist political philosophers and, hopefully, by political philosophers more generally, attracting as much attention as Susan Okin's Justice, Gender, and the Family.

Allen Wood

Sibyl Schwarzenbach takes a large view of political philosophy, both its history and its contemporary manifestations, but stays selective in her treatment of social philosophers from Aristotle to John Rawls. Her book is a substantial accomplishment, on both the historical and systematic levels, and is presented vigorously and appealingly.

Allen Wood, Stanford University and Indiana University

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