of individuals and relationships as more than properties of individual persons

Of individuals and relationships as more than

This preview shows page 12 - 14 out of 18 pages.

of individuals and relationships as more than properties of individual persons, it is committed to saying that communities and relationships have moral standing and that they need to be included in our thought and action. Care, Justice and Self-Understanding There is an additional way to sort out the differences between the care and justice voice and that is in terms of self-understanding. This was suggested by Nona Lyons, who argued that a particular self-understanding, a "distinct way of seeing and being in relation to others" explains the moral agent's preference for a particular moral voice. ix Lyons identifies two different self-understandings: what she calls the separate/objective self and the connected self. Persons who fit the separate/objective self model describe themselves in terms of personal characteristics rather than connections to others. Connected selves, on the other hand, describe themselves in terms of connections to others: granddaughter of, friend of, etc. This suggests that the separate/objective self sees 12
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oneself as distinct from others in a more profound sense than does the connected self. The separate/objective self might, for example, see oneself as connected to others only through voluntary agreements. The separate/objective self might value autonomy more highly than good relationships with others. Lyons describes further differences. Separate/objective selves recognize moral dilemmas as those that involve a conflict between their principles and someone else's desires, needs or demands. Connected selves, on the other hand, identify moral dilemmas as those that involve the breakdown of relationships with others. Separate/objective selves fear connection and dependence, and hence value autonomy and independence. Connected selves fear separation and abandonment, and hence value connection and responsiveness. We can see then how these self-understandings support different moral orientations. Separate selves understand themselves as distinct from others. They conceive moral dilemmas as arising from the conflict between their moral principles and the needs, demands, desires and principles of others. As such, they must mediate their interaction with others in the voice of justice--in terms of ground rules and procedures that can be accepted by all. This is the only foundation for interaction at all, since ties of affection are not seen as strong enough to provide a basis for interaction, especially in persons who fear connection and dependence. This fear of dependence and attachment also explains why they value the objectivity and impartiality that can stand between them and intimates. At the same time, separate/objective selves recognize that interaction with others plays a role in one's satisfaction, so they value community and relationship insofar as these play a role in individual satisfaction.
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  • Spring '11
  • LBernasconi
  • Ethics, Kohlberg's stages of moral development, Carol Gilligan

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