Chapter

The Ethics of Care

Virginia Held

Edited by David Copp

in The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory

Published in print December 2005 | ISBN: 9780195147797
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199785841 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195147790.003.0020

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Ethics of Care

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In the last few decades, the ethics of care as a feminist ethic has given rise to extensive literature, and has affected moral inquiries in many areas. It offers a distinctive challenge to the dominant moral theories: Kantian moral theory, utilitarianism, and virtue ethics. This chapter outlines the distinctive features and promising possibilities of the ethics of care, and the criticisms that have been made against it. It then examines the ethics of care’s recognition of human dependency and of the importance of responding to needs; its interpretation of the roles of emotion and reason in moral understanding; and its critique of liberal individualism and development of a conception of the person as relational. The ethics of care contrasts care with justice, tries to integrate them, and reconceptualizes public and private life and morality.

Keywords: care; dependency; feminism; Kantian moral theory; liberal individualism; reason; emotion; relational person; utilitarianism; virtue ethics

Chapter.  14295 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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