Did you ever stop and think long and hard about what type of person you are? Whether you put your needs before the needs of others, or if you care for others more than you care for yourself. The word “care” can mean many things. The ethics of care is a normative ethical theory about what makes actions right or wrong. It implies that there is moral significance in the elements of relationships and dependencies in human life. Care ethics normally seeks to maintain relationships by promoting the well-being of each other. The word “care” involves meeting the needs of not only our self, but others as well.
It is inspired by memories of being cared for and the idealizations of self. Since “care” depends upon the contextual considerations, it is difficult to define. There have been at least three distinct but overlapping meanings that have emerged in the recent decades. It can be known as “an ethic defined in opposition to justice, a kind of labor, and a particular relationship. ”
In ethical literature, ‘care’ is most often defined as “a practice, value, disposition, or virtue, and is frequently portrayed as an overlapping set of concepts. One of the most popular definitions of care is “a species of activity that includes everything we do to maintain, contain, and repair our ‘world’ so that we can live in it as well as possible. That world includes our bodies, us, and our environment”. Care ethics was first most explicitly articulated by Carol Gilligan and Nel Noddings in the early 1980s. Gilligan, a graduate student at Harvard, wrote her paper outlining a different path of moral development than the one described by Lawrence Kohlberg, her mentor.
Gilligan believed that her mentor Kohlberg’s model of moral development to be gender biased. She posed a different view and found that both men and women articulated the voice of care at different times, but pointed out that without women, the voice of care would nearly fall out of their studies. Later, Gilligan resisted readings of her work that suggests care ethics as relating to gender more than theme, and even established the harmony of care and justice ethics, but never fully abandoned her thesis of an association between women and relational ethics.
Nel Nodding’s published Caring, in 1984. Caring developed the idea of care as a feminine ethic, and applied it to the practice of moral education. Nodding’s understood caring relationships to be basic to human existence and consciousness. She identified two parties in a caring relationship—“one-caring” and the “cared-for. ” She stated that both parties have some form of obligation to care and meet the other morally, but not in the same manner. Nodding’s located the origin of ethical action in two motives. One is the human affective response that is a natural caring sentiment.
The second is the memory of being cared-for that gives rise to an ideal self. She also identified two stages of caring, “caring-for” and “caring-about”. There were a number of criticisms that have been launched against care ethics. Some of the critiques include: slave morality, and that care ethics is empirically flawed. Care ethics as a slave morality is one of the first objections. The philosopher Frederick Nietzsche came up with the concepts of slave morality. Nietzsche believed that oppressed people tend to develop moral theories that confirm traits as virtues.
This interprets the voice of care as emerging from traditions characterized by severely enforced sexual divisions of labor. Issues against caring practices are warned because women perform the work of care for their own economic and political disadvantage. This objection further implies that the voice of care may not be an authentic or empowering expression, but a product of false consciousness. Another critique is that care ethics is empirically flawed. People started to question the accuracy of Gilligan’s studies.
She has been criticized that her conclusions are too narrow and that her studies were performed on an overly homogeneous groups. Critics argued that wider samples would be more accurate and yield more diverse results. Since care ethics has an association with women, it is often seen as a feminine ethic. Care ethics, feminine ethics, and feminist ethics are frequently seen as synonymous. However, not all feminine and feminist ethics are care ethics. The connection between care ethics and femininity has been subject to challenge.
The idea that there may be a feminine approach to ethics can be traced far back into history. Assumptions of feminine ethics are that women are similar enough to share a common perspective, and that characteristically feminine traits include compassion, empathy, nurturance, and kindness. There is also the chance that it could be acknowledged that women are diverse, and that some men exhibit equally strong tendencies to care. It has been proven that many women, in actuality and in myth, do not display care.
There are other factors known to correlate with care thinking such as: social identity, ethnicity, and class. But nonetheless, care is assumed to be a feminine trait. All in all, care ethics has a vigorous set of definitions and it can be understood in many different ways. It really can make you think of what is right or what is wrong on a daily basis. After learning about care ethics, it really makes me wonder about the ideal concept of it and what it means to me as an individual. Taking a look at the critiques of it, and whether or not you believe the critics or the philosophers who articulated it.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 15 November 2016
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