¿Eran las mujeres del siglo XIX más libres que las de Sexo en Nueva York? por Albert Esplugas

Apasionante debate a cuatro bandas entre Bryan Caplan, Tyler Cowen, Will Wilkinson y Robin Hanson. ¿Eran las mujeres en el siglo XIX más libres que en la actualidad, aunque su vida fuera más penosa? ¿Son las mujeres Amish tan libres como el resto?

Caplan, el catalizador de la discusión, sugiere que las mujeres del XIX eran más libres que las de Sex and the City:

Marriage was still voluntary. From a libertarian standpoint, coverture would only have been a serious problem if parties were not legally allowed to write alternative marital agreements. As far as I can tell, such alternatives were legal. (...) "One exception to the feme covert rule was in the instance of a prenuptial contract. All colonies accepted these contracts, but few couples signed them." (...) [véase también: The Decline of Coverture]

Still, wasn't coverture a blatant attempt to "nudge" people in a patriarchal direction? Maybe, but as Sunstein and Thaler often point out, there's got to be some default contract. The most libertarian option, of course, is separation of state and marriage, leaving the defaults up to private parties. But the next most libertarian alternative, I think, is to defer to common definitions. If by "marriage" most people mean "monogamous marriage," it's reasonable for monogamy to be the default rule. If by "marriage" most people mean "a marriage where the wife needs her husband's permission to work," it's reasonable for that to be the default rule. (...)

While it's tempting to dismiss pre-modern legal doctrines as blind sexism, it's often unfair. As the economics of the family teaches us, the traditional family made a lot of sense in traditional times. In economies with primitive technology and big families, it makes perfect sense for men to specialize in strength-intensive market labor and women to specialize in housework and childcare - and for default rules to reflect this economic logic.

Wilkinson habla de los prerequisitos de la libertad de elección y concluye que el argumento de Caplan demuestra la irrelevancia de la "libertad negativa" formal.

Bryan Caplan might persist in arguing that women were in some sense free to opt out of this sort tyrannical arrangement. If de Cleyre could opt out, other women could as well, right? I don’t think it’s that easy. Bryan is unjustifiably ignoring the developmental prerequisites for autonomous or robustly voluntary choice. One way to deny an individual the ability to choose really freely is to raise her in a way that constantly cultivates and reinforces a set of preferences and expectations that fit comfortably within a social and legal order of paternalistic control and systematic inequality of status and rights. (...)

I think Bryan should see that what he has done is to offer to the historically well-informed (libertarian or not) a very powerful case that “libertarian freedom,” as he conceives it, is a worthless idea.

Cowen respalda a Wilkinson, arguyendo que las actitudes sociales y las restricciones no-legales están integradas con las restricciones estatales.

When people are poor, apparently small interventions can be quite crushing and quite coercive. To cite the "smaller" interventions of 1880 doesn't much convince me. The real impact of the depredations against women was very, very large, even from some "small interventions" (and I don't think they were all small).

(Also, I would not in this case take the *legal* oppressions to be a stand-alone or exogenous variable, separable from more general societal attitudes. There were various male desires to oppress women, which took a mix of legal and non-legal forms. Asking how bad the "government-only" restrictions were is an odd division of the problem, since the governmental and non-governmental restrictions were an integrated package which worked together in non-linear fashion.)

Hanson salta a la palestra advirtiéndonos contra la arrogancia cultural (hacia los Amish o las sociedades del pasado) y concluyendo que todos nos sometemos voluntariamente a nuestra cultura (o somos igual de esclavos a ella).

Sure the choices of the Amish, or of Utah polygamists, are greatly influenced by their culture. Same for typical US folks of 1880. Yes, I might want a chance to warn the young of other cultures against committing to their culture’s life plan, until they’ve considered the virtues of my culture’s plans. Yes, I could imagine a hyper open culture that went out of its way to get its kids to consider a wide range of possible plans before committing. And yes, we are now are rich, and wealth can buy many freedoms.

But other than being rich, we are not an especially open culture; on the whole our young are just as brainwashed into doing things our way as are the young of most cultures. Our descendants may well be as horrified by our common commitments, as we are by those of our ancestors.

Most folks in most cultures voluntarily commit to their culture’s usual life plans. The young tend to be freer than the old, but once they have committed, they become less free. The young enslave their future older selves, tying them to choices favored by their culture. In this way we all become slaves to our culture. I’ve argued we should try harder to overcome this provincialism:

Try to celebrate, and truly listen to, honest intellectual travelers, who take the time to be trained in other cultures, disciplines, and schools, which then influences their thoughtful contributions.

But to just assume that others are less free because they don’t do things our way is simple inexcusable arrogance.

(...) When the issue is marginal cultures, like Amish or polygamists, surely they are much more aware of dominant culture plans and arguments than vice versa. Remove the log from your eye before you try to remove the speck from theirs.
Este debate tiene obvias conexiones con el de la prohibición del burka y la opresión social de signo islámico.

Albert Esplugas:

0 comentarios: