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Feminist Thought and Ethics of Care

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While ethics theories often focus on justice, care, an “equally valid moral perspective,” is usually disregarded because of male bias. The two perspectives are often pleasant-sounding, but a need for care point of view precedence exists. While truth is evident in both these statements, the problem of distinguishing between them becomes apparent soon after. Many feminist look to psychologist Carol Gilligan’s research for evidence to confirm the difference between characteristically male and female approaches to moral decision making.

Her research illustrated how men almost unfailingly focus on justice when making moral decisions and women use justice and care in equal proportions in their moral judgments.

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While men and women take different paths with their moral judgments, there is no justifiable basis to put one above the other. Ethics theories usually focus on justice alone. Gilligan concluded that care, something just as important, is usually disregarded in the interests of the male partiality present in the male creators of many ethical theories.

Gilligan examines the male justice perspective saying, “From a justice perspective, the self as moral agent stands as the figure against a ground of social relationships judging the conflicting claims of self and others against a standard of equality or equal respect (cited in). The male moral perspective of justice is chiefly rooted in principles and rules, tending to deny the role of feelings and emotions. This sentiment is predominant in moral theories and echoes a male bias, according to Gilligan.

Gilligan examines the female justice perspective saying, “From a care perspective, the relationship becomes the figure, defining self and others. Within the context of relationship, the self as a moral agent perceives and responds to the perception of need. The shift in moral perspective is manifest by a change in the moral question from ‘What is just? ‘ to ‘How to respond? ‘” The female moral perspective of care concerns feelings and emotions like love, sympathy, and compassion. This sentiment is lacking in many moral theories and reveals the common male bias, according to.

Some critics question the distinction Gilligan makes between justice and care perspectives and others attempt to validly illustrate her ideas. Roger Rigterink does just this. He uses a real life example he feels illustrates the difference between justice and care perspectives. In 1988, a hunter killed a rare white crow in Wisconsin. Many people were upset like Jo Ann Munson who said, “I was angry about it when I first heard of it and I still am. I don’t understand why someone feels the need to shoot a bird like that. It should have been left in the wild for all of us to enjoy” .

Holing to his side of the story, the hunter stated, “I’m a hunter, its fair game. The opportunity presented itself. People blow these things out of context…I had been seeing it for a long time. I wanted it for a trophy” After relating the story, Rigterink solicited responses from his students. Many said the hunter was justified in his actions because no laws prohibited what he did. This response is aligned with a justice perception in its appealing to rules and rights. Other students said the hunter was thoughtless, insensitive, and a jerk.

These students use a care approach that appeals to the insensitive and thoughtless side of the hunter’s action. Rigterink uses this case because he feels that justice and care points of view are incompatible. While a clear line between care and justice becomes apparent in this example, critics question Rigterink’s interpretation of the results. He assumes that the hunter’s action was itself just because the laws said so. This perspective has hints of Utilitarianism and Kant in it. If these theories are invoked, though, a duty to care or a greatest utility resulting from care dimension is also part of the equation.

This pokes holes in Rigterink’s interpretation of his findings (Barcalow, p. 201). Is there a difference between the moral language and logic of males and females? Does sex or gender play a difference in moral reasoning? Variety of qualities that characterize male and female ethics. Men: talk in terms of hurting and benefiting others, reasoning they ought to do that which helped the people involved in a particular case at hand. The moral realm then in many ways be similar to the public domain of law and contract.

The primary obligation is not to act unfairly; impartiality and respectfulness are key virtues. Women: Morality is highly personal. It is the private and personal natural relations of family and friends that the model for other relations. The primary moral obligation is to prevent harm and to help people and not to turn away from those is need. Caring and compassion are key virtues. According to Kohlberg, the highest stage of moral development was supposed to be the stage in which an adult can be governed not by social pressure but by personal moral principles and a sense of justice.

Kohlberg, found that women did not often reach this stage of development. He thus judged them to be morally underdeveloped or morally deficient. Freud believed woman basetheir morality on causes about personal relations rather than a sense of justice was a lesser form of morality, adding that woman were morally inferior to men. There are several variations to the research psychologist have done. Any difference between me and womens morality can be accounted by social status and experience rather then gender.

Ethics of care as a viable and valuable, alternative morality. Nel Nodding states ethics has been guided by LOGOS the masculine spirit whereas the more natural and perhaps stronger approach would be through EROS, the feminie spirit. Moral decisions are made in real situations. It is the recognition of and longing for relatedness that form the foundation of our ethics and the joy that accompanies fulfillment of our caring enhances our commitment to the ethical ideal that sustains as one-caring.

Cite this Feminist Thought and Ethics of Care

Feminist Thought and Ethics of Care. (2017, Jan 29). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/feminist-thought-and-ethics-of-care/

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