Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 February 2022
Quentin Skinner's neo-Romanism has proved a hugely rich resource for understanding the thought of women philosophers. So why do they not form part of his discussion in Liberty before Liberalism? I argue that this is partly a consequence of Skinner's focus on the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when women political philosophers were apparently fewer. When we look at the eighteenth century, particularly at its second half, with the sort of attention to contextual detail Skinner recommends, we find a number of women philosophers embracing and developing a republicanism which emphasizes liberty as non-domination. These women aligned themselves with the tradition of neo-Roman political thought and therefore ought to be studied with equal care. Moreover, a study of their works reveals neo-Roman republicanism in a different light from that of their predecessors, one which takes their position as women in society – as mothers, but also as potential citizens and policy makers - as central. I focus on two authors in particular: Olympe de Gouges and Manon Roland.