relationships. As caring persons think about what to do, they try not to undermine these relationships but rather to nurture and extend the relationships that are supportive of human flourishing. Accommodation and Harmony Related to the notion of relationship awareness is accommodation. Often times there are many persons involved and how best to help is not obvious. The desire to nurture networks of care requires that one tries to accommodate the needs of all, including myself. It is not always possible, or wise, to do what everyone thinks they need, but it is often important to do what you think is best while at the same time giving everyone concerned a sense of being involved and considered in the process. When we do this, we have a better chance of preserving harmony. If you do what you think is right 7
without consulting anyone, you risk upsetting the harmony of the group. Of course not all harmony is worth preserving. The oppressive society may be pretty stable and harmonious, but at the price of those at the bottom. An ethic of care would be opposed to this type of superficial harmony since it is dependent on treating some as though they do not deserve the same care as others. Ideally, we should aim for the harmonious society in which all are treated with care. Let’s return to Doug and see how he might have thought about the situation if he’d been more skillful at caring. Doug did not really think about Susan’s situation very carefully. He should have realized that she was very upset about her father’s illness. Since we are all distracted when something this serious is going on in our lives, she was probably also worried that her concern might put her job performance in jeopardy. Doug should not have taken her words at face value because it’s hard to believe that her father really wanted her to go. Perhaps he was just being a good father and trying to put Susan’s needs above his own. Very likely, he was worried about how his illness was affecting her and might have told her to go to give her some time off or to protect her job. Doug also did not give much thought to how well Susan would be able to interact with the client while her father was dying miles away. The result of his action was a lost account and considerable discomfort for Susan. This lack of care on his part probably will affect his relationship with Susan and her effectiveness in future negotiations. Whenever she has to go visit a client, she will be reminded of that very precious time she lost with her father. Doug should have given more thought to finding other alternatives to sending Susan on the trip during this very trying time. Thus it appears that Doug failed to be caring in the following ways. He was not morally attentive to the situation Susan 8
was in; he failed to sympathetically understand what was going on in her life; he did not note the set of relationships that connected Susan to her father, and to her colleagues; and
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- Spring '11
- Ethics, Kohlberg's stages of moral development, Carol Gilligan