28 terms

Feminist Ethics

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Feminist Ethics of Care
• Emergence of care ethics as a distinct moral theory is most often attributed to the works of psychologist Carol Gilligan and philosopher Nel Noddings in the mid-1980s

• Care ethics has similarities with African ethics, Confucian ethicss*, and others.

• Typically contrasted with deontological/Kantian and consequentialist/utilitarian ethicss*.
Heinz Dilemma
Heinz cannot afford to pay for the medicine his wife needs. Should Heinz steal medicine from a pharmacist to save the life of his sick wife?
"Jake" Response to Heinz Dilemma
"Heinz should steal the drugs, because life is worth more than money." Definitive Answer, Rational Calculation, Neutral Standpoint, Moral Principles
"Amy" Response to Heinz Dilemma
"If we talk with the pharmacist he'd understand and freely donate the drugs." No Definitive Answer, Empathy and Compassion, Need to talk, Seeks more information to understand situation
Carol Gilligan
1. Men and women use fundamentally different approaches to morality.
2. Women refuse to apply abstract principles, but focus on relationships. They reject moral dilemmas which pose unrealistic situations.
3. Feminine "care perspective" is an alternative, but equally legitimate form of moral reasoning obscured by masculine liberal justice traditions focused on autonomy and independence.
Male morality
1. Has a "justice orientation"
2. Individuals have certain basic rights that should be respected
3. Restrictions on what you can do to others
4. Involves the application of universally valid moral rules. (Absolutism vs. Relativism)
Female morality
1. Has a "responsibility orientation"
2. People have responsibilities towards others
3. An imperative to care for others
Tenets of Feminist Ethics
1. Relationships
2. Care Ethics
3. Unchosen Responsibilities
4. Personal and Concrete
5. Inner Circles
6. Actual Situations and Real People
7. Virtue Ethics
Relationships
The central priority of ethics is not the concept of individual rights but *relationships with other human beings*
Care Ethics
The principal goal of ethics is not autonomy and liberty of individual humans, rather it is the *giving and receiving of care appropriate to specific persons and their situations*
Unchosen Responsibilities
The source of our duties is not always by social contract but are often unchosen responsibilities
Personal and Concrete
The "other" with whom one deals morally must be distinctly personified and not an impersonal, faceless abstraction.
Inner Circles
Everyone does not count equally and favoritism (not impartiality) is acceptable since one has a greater responsibility to those one is closer to
Actual Situations and Real People
Moral judgments emerge from actual situations and are not derived by applying logical formulas to general principles
Virtue Ethics
Feminist ethics will be a morality of virtues rather than primarily one of justice
Virtues for Feminist Ethics
Compassion, mercy, trust, forgiveness, care, kindness, protectiveness, helpfulness, empathy, generosity, understanding, etc
Nel Noddings
1. Care is basic in human life - all people want to be cared for
2. While men and women are guided by an ethic of care, 'natural caring' can have a significant basis in women's experience.
3. Difference between caring /for/ and caring /about/
Nel Noddings: What are we like when we engage in caring encounters?
• We are receptive; we are attentive in a special way.
• This attention shares some similarities with what Carl Rogers describes as 'empathy'.
• Noddings thinks 'empathy' is western/masculine; prefers to talk about 'sympathy''* - /feeling/ with - as more nearly capturing the affective state of attention in caring.
Noddings: 3 Elements of a Caring Encounter
1. A cares for B - that is A's consciousness is characterized by attention and motivational displacement - and
2. A performs some act in accordance with (1), and
3. B recognizes that A cares for B
Motivational displacement
The carer's 'motive energy' flows towards the 'cared-for'. The carer thus responds to the cared-for in ways that are, hopefully, helpful.
Receptive attention
The carer is open to what the cared-for is saying and might be experiencing and is able to reflect upon it.
Caring-for
• Face-to-face encounters in which one person cares directly for another
• Preferred form of caring
Caring-about
• More general than caring-for
• Involves 'a certain benign neglect': 'One is attentive just so far. One contributes five dollars and goes on to other things'
• Caring-about is almost certainly the foundation for our sense of justice
• Noddings: Although preferred form of caring is cared-for, caring-about can help in establishing, maintaining, and enhancing it.
Deontological/Kantian ethics
Egalitarianismm* - Every human equal in worth
Universalismm* - For morality to be valid, it must apply to /everyone/, even ourselves
Absolutismm* - No exceptions to moral principles
Feminist care ethics
Favoritismm* - Everyone does not count equally; favoritism is acceptable since one has a greater responsibility to those one is closer to
Situational Contextt* - Giving and receiving of care appropriate to specific persons and their situations
Non-Principled/Actual Situations & Real Peoplee* - Moral judgements emerge from actual situations and are not derived by applying logical formulas to general principles
Natural Caring
• A form of caring that does not require an ethical effort to motivate it
• Caring because "I want" to care
• Ex: I hug a friend who needs hugging in an act of love.
• Antithetical to Kantian priorities - i.e., caring out of /duty/
Ethical Caring
• A form of caring that requires an ethical effort to motivate itt* (Deontological/Kantian)
• Caring because "I must" care
• Ex: I hug an acquaintance who needs hugging in spite of my desire to escape that person's pain
Central priority of ethics
• Not the concept of individual rights, but relationships with other human beings
• Not autonomy and liberty of individual humans, rather it is the giving and receiving of care appropriate to specific persons and their situations
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