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Care for others and fostering relationships One characteristic of people with integrity is the ability to care for others and to foster good relationships. Caring for others is more than having sympathetic feelings for them; it requires that one take concrete action to look after the needs of others. Caring for others and fostering good relationships go together for two reasons. First, humans are essentially social creatures—we live and work in groups and most of us would be absolutely miserable if we didn’t have meaningful relationships. So caring about personsmeans caring about their relationships. Second, we cannot accomplish many of the tasks we need to undertake unless we can foster good relationships. This includes the task of giving care to others.Let’s start with an example and see how caring works. Doug is concerned with trying to salvage an account and wants to send someone to visit the client. Kien is the most likely candidate since he has a good working relationship with the client, but he is scheduled to visit another client on a much bigger account. Susan has some experience with this client and has been known to save accounts in similar situations, so she is Doug’s first choice. Carlos is a possibility, but he is not as familiar with the product as Susan. Doug recalls that Susan’s father is in the last stages of his battle with congestive heart failure and he wonders whether it would be fair to ask her to go. He calls her into his office and Susan says that her father would probably want her to go. Satisfied, Doug sends Susan on the trip, but the account is lost anyway. Did Doug do the right thing? Wecan now answer this question by asking whether Doug was sufficiently caring. What is Care?1
Care is a basic human capacity to recognize and respond to the needs of others and to moderate our behavior by appeal to the good or harm it might cause to others. Martin Hoffman is a prominent moral psychologist who sees care as growing out of our natural capacity for empathy.iThis capacity is evident even in newborns, who cry when they hear another baby cry. Later in their development, children come to be motivated to help whenever they encounter others in distress. Finally, reflection allows us to build on our basic empathic distress at the suffering of others. We then can generalize beyond our immediate experience of someone’s distress and imagine the distress of someone who is distant from us. In both cases, we feel impelled to help. This impulse to help can be undermined in a number of ways: by blaming the victim for his own distress, by feeling overwhelmed by the distress of others, and by consciously avoiding the awareness of the distress of others. Further, we have a natural impulse to prioritize the needs of those who are close to us. Hoffman points to the natural, evolutionary, basis for empathy, but suggests that we can use this natural capacity to motivate us to be responsive to distant others as well, as long as we make a conscious commitment to be caring persons.
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Ethics, Kohlberg's stages of moral development, Carol Gilligan