ADVANTAGES

While the political effects of personal freedom pose a seriouschallenge to contemporary liberal theories of distributive justice,the feminist critiques are somewhat puzzling because, as Jean Hamptonputs it, many feminists appear to complain in the name of liberalvalues. In other words, their claims about the fundamental flaws ofliberalism at the same time leave intact the various ideals of libertyand equality which inspire the liberal theories of justice. Moreover,the task of defining feasible pathways for modifying the structure ofliberal democracies without undermining their virtues and protectionshas proved more difficult than setting out the criticisms ofliberalism. Indeed, despite a legitimate feminist worry about theeffects of so-called government neutrality on women’s materialstatus, the relative neutrality of liberal democracies compared tonon-liberal societies has been one of the significant contributingfactors both to the flourishing of feminist theory and to the manysignificant practical gains women in liberal democracies have maderelative to women in other parts of the world. The challenge, beingtaken up by many, is to navigate both a coherent theoretical andpractical path in response to the best feminist critiques available(see the entry on ).

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