Foundations of and Ethics of Care, pp. 257-260 Care and Virtue, pp. 261-262 The Ethics of Care and the Experience of Women The ethics of care is a recent addition and still under development. In this module, we will draw on how the ethics of care has been presented in two significant authors, psychologist Carol Gilligan and educationalist Nel Noddings. Both authors can be described as participating in a rethinking of feminist philosophy in terms of the distinctive experience of women. Most proponents of the ethics of care are women. They have argued that the experience of maternal care and attachment is essential to understanding human morality and ethics. Yet it has largely been passed over as being of secondary importance or irrelevant. Proponents of the ethics of care find such a position suspect. What do you think? Care as Relational First, what is care? It can be characterized as a relational activity and experience that is rooted in being open to the other and responsive to another's needs. Care is a mode of feeling by which one puts oneself in the presence of the being for which one cares (the cared-for). This is described as an affective-receptive mode, which is an awareness of and commitment to the needs of another. It is directed toward the welfare, protection, and enhancement of the cared-for (Noddings 2-35). Care calls for completion in the response of the cared-for, since it is a relational activity and experience. Relationality and Dependency The outlook of the ethics of care finds its beginnings in the original fact that we all begin our lives in a state of dependency, and many of us experience dependency at various points throughout our lives and at the end of life. That we begin our life in a state of dependency is one of those inescapable facts of human life. None of us would be alive if others had not taken it upon themselves to provide care for us. This sets the tenor of human experience as being fundamentally relational and to a large degree asymmetrical. Relationality and the fact that individuals are embedded in overlapping cycles of attachment and separation (Gilligan 151), are the fundamental assumptions of the ethics of care. It is these fundamental phenomena that ground its conception of moral life and ethical reflection. The ethics of care sees individuals through the lens of the relations they form and maintain. The individuals could not exist without being embedded in some relation or other. It is in this sense that relations are primary. Claire, a physician that Gilligan had interviewed, is quoted as saying, “by yourself, there is little sense of things…You have to love someone else, because while you may not like them, you are inseparable from them” (Gilligan 160). What do you think of this? How can we be inseparable from those we do not like?
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- Spring '18
- Kohlberg's stages of moral development, Carol Gilligan , Ethics of Care Carol Gilligan