Care into pdf - A Care Approach Rita Manning San Jos State...

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1 A Care Approach Rita Manning San José State University This is an abridged version of a chapter in Kuhse and Singer, Companion to Bioethics, Blackwell, forthcoming An ethic of care is a way of understanding one’s moral role, of looking at moral issues and coming to an accommodation in moral situations. In this chapter, I will outline my version of care ethics, and provide an overview of some other important care theories. I. One Model of Care Ethics Though humans have always included features of care in their constructive interactions with each other, it only emerged recently as a systematic moral perspective. Nel Noddings' very influential book, Caring: A feminine approach to ethics and moral education (1986 and 2003), was the first contemporary work that described care in some detail as a moral orientation. Virginia Held has also been an influential defender of this perspective who has most recently extended care theory to the global arena (Held, 2005). There are important differences and similarities in the various descriptions of an ethic of care, but in this first section, I will be defending my own particular conception of an ethic of care. (Manning, 1992). Care involves a basic human capacity to recognize and respond to the needs of others and to moderate our behaviour in light of the good or harm it might cause to others. Martin Hoffman (2000) is a prominent moral psychologist who sees care as growing out of our natural capacity for empathy. This 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. Because there is a natural basis for care, care as a moral perspective can be both a strong motivation for doing the right thing, and can provide a basis for recognizing right actions. One way to think about moral perspectives is to see them as growing out of ideal ways to respond in a certain context. For example, if one thinks about what is involved in doing one’s moral best in the context of a marketplace between relatively independent
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2 and self-interested strangers, the value of honesty and trust are central. When one thinks about what is involved in caring for someone who needs our help, the value of concern, competence and trust are central. The care perspective in moral philosophy grew out of looking systematically at what is required to be a responsible member of a flourishing relationship. Sara Ruddick (1989), for example, looked carefully at what is involved in being a good mother to dependent children. Many contemporary defenders of an ethic of care, and many historical antecedents such as David Hume and Adam Smith, think that
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This note was uploaded on 09/08/2010 for the course PHIL 292 at San Jose State.

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Care into pdf - A Care Approach Rita Manning San Jos State...

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