The Ethics of Care

Virginia Held

in The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780195325911
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Ethics of Care


The ethics of care sees a disposition to care appropriately for others as the chief characteristic of a morally desirable psychology. Such a disposition can be viewed as a virtue. This article, however, rejects the idea that the ethics of care is a kind of virtue theory on the grounds that its focus is on caring relations between people rather than on caring dispositions. The ethics of care clearly is not a virtue theory in the classical tradition, for it rejects the idea that the proper exercise of practical reason is needed to enable one to determine how to act. It holds that the moral emotions, such as empathy and sensitivity, guide us to act properly. Beyond this, the ethics of care stresses the moral importance of meeting people's needs.

Keywords: ethics of care; psychology; virtue theory; empathy; sensitivity

Article.  14131 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy

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