Prohairesis and a Stoic-Inspired Feminist Autonomy (pages 83-104)

Emily McGill

ABSTRACT: The idea that the ancient Stoics are (proto)feminists is relatively common. Even those critical of this position acknowledge that certain features of Stoicism render the philosophical program appropriate for a feminist reimagining. Yet less attention has been paid to developing a positive theory of Stoic feminism. I begin this task by outlining Stoic insights for a feminist conception of personal autonomy. I argue that, present in the Stoic doctrine of prohairesis, we find a dual conception of personal autonomy according to which socially constructed selves maintain an individualist autonomy. This individualist view of autonomy is in line with Stoic compatibilism about freedom and selfhood, which I use as structural analogies to motivate my account. I then highlight potential feminist payoffs of a Stoic-inspired view, particularly for the contemporary feminist debate about autonomy under oppression.

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