Joan Tronto Women And Caring What Can Feminists Learn About Morality From Caring Pdf

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Care Is Political: Situating the ‘Ethic of Care’ in a Conceptual Framework

Normatively, care ethics seeks to maintain relationships by contextualizing and promoting the well-being of care-givers and care-receivers in a network of social relations. It builds on the motivation to care for those who are dependent and vulnerable, and it is inspired by both memories of being cared for and the idealizations of self.

Following in the sentimentalist tradition of moral theory, care ethics affirms the importance of caring motivation, emotion and the body in moral deliberation, as well as reasoning from particulars. Critics fault care ethics with being a kind of slave morality, and as having serious shortcomings including essentialism, parochialism, and ambiguity. Although care ethics is not synonymous with feminist ethics, much has been written about care ethics as a feminine and feminist ethic, in relation to motherhood, international relations, and political theory.

Care ethics is widely applied to a number of moral issues and ethical fields, including caring for animals and the environment, bioethics, and more recently public policy. Originally conceived as most appropriate to the private and intimate spheres of life, care ethics has branched out as a political theory and social movement aimed at broader understanding of, and public support for, care-giving activities in their breadth and variety.

While early strains of care ethics can be detected in the writings of feminist philosophers such as Mary Wollstonecraft, Catherine and Harriet Beecher, and Charlotte Perkins, it was first most explicitly articulated by Carol Gilligan and Nel Noddings in the early s. While a graduate student at Harvard, Gilligan wrote her dissertation outlining a different path of moral development than the one described by Lawrence Kohlberg, her mentor.

Kohlberg had posited that moral development progressively moves toward more universalized and principled thinking and had also found that girls, when later included in his studies, scored significantly lower than boys.

She found that both men and women articulated the voice of care at different times, but noted that the voice of care, without women, would nearly fall out of their studies.

She characterized this difference as one of theme, however, rather than of gender. Jake sees the Heinz dilemma as a math problem with people wherein the right to life trumps the right to property, such that all people would reasonably judge that Heinz ought to steal the drug. Amy, on the other hand, disagrees that Heinz should steal the drug, lest he should go to prison and leave his wife in another predicament.

She sees the dilemma as a narrative of relations over time, involving fractured relationships that must be mended through communication.

Understanding the world as populated with networks of relationships rather than people standing alone, Amy is confident that the druggist would be willing to work with Heinz once the situation was explained. Gilligan posited that men and women often speak different languages that they think are the same, and she sought to correct the tendency to take the male perspective as the prototype for humanity in moral reasoning. Later, Gilligan vigorously resisted readings of her work that posit care ethics as relating to gender more than theme, and even established the harmony of care and justice ethics , but she never fully abandoned her thesis of an association between women and relational ethics.

Gilligan also expanded her ideas in a number of articles and reports Gilligan, ; ; ; In Noddings published Caring , in which she developed the idea of care as a feminine ethic, and applied it to the practice of moral education. Drawing conceptually from a maternal perspective, Noddings understood caring relationships to be basic to human existence and consciousness.

Noddings located the origin of ethical action in two motives, the human affective response that is a natural caring sentiment, and the memory of being cared-for that gives rise to an ideal self. Noddings rejected universal principles for prescribed action and judgment, arguing that care must always be contextually applied.

The former stage refers to actual hands-on application of caring services, and the latter to a state of being whereby one nurtures caring ideas or intentions. She further argued that the scope of caring obligation is limited.

The caring obligation is conceived of as moving outward in concentric circles so enlarged care is increasingly characterized by a diminished ability for particularity and contextual judgment, which prompted Noddings to speculate that it is impossible to care-for everyone. She maintained that while the one-caring has an obligation to care-for proximate humans and animals to the extent that they are needy and able to respond to offerings of care, there is a lesser obligation to care for distant others if there is no hope that care will be completed.

These claims proved to be highly controversial, and Noddings later revised them somewhat. In her more recent book Starting From Home , Noddings endorsed a stronger obligation to care about distant humans, and affirms caring-about as an important motivational stage for inspiring local and global justice, but continued to hold that it is impossible to care-for all, especially distant others. See 3a. Baier specially underscores trust, a basic relation between particular persons, as the fundamental concept of morality, and notes its obfuscation within theories premised on abstract and autonomous agents.

She recommends carving out room for the development of moral emotions and harmonizing the ideals of care and justice. Virginia Held is the editor and author of many books pertaining to care ethics. In much of her work she seeks to move beyond ideals of liberal justice, arguing that they are not as much flawed as limited, and examines how social relations might be different when modeled after mothering persons and children.

Premised on a fundamental non-contractual human need for care, Held construes care as the most basic moral value. She describes feminist ethics as committed to actual experience, with an emphasis on reason and emotion, literal rather than hypothetical persons, embodiment, actual dialogue, and contextual, lived methodologies. In The Ethics of Care , Held demonstrates the relevance of care ethics to political, social and global questions.

Conceptualizing care as a cluster of practices and values, she describes a caring person as one who has appropriate motivations to care for others and who participates adeptly in effective caring practices. She argues for limiting both market provisions for care and the need for legalistic thinking in ethics, asserting that care ethics has superior resources for dealing with the power and violence that imbues all relations, including those on the global level.

Specifically, she recommends a view of a globally interdependent civil society increasingly dependent upon an array of caring NGOs for solving problems. Ultimately, she argues that rights based moral theories presume a background of social connection, and that when fore-grounded, care ethics can help to create communities that promote healthy social relations, rather than the near boundless pursuit of self-interest.

Eva Feder Kittay is another prominent care ethicist. Meyers, is one the most significant anthologies in care ethics to date. She argues that equality for dependency workers and the unavoidably dependent will only be achieved through conceptual and institutional reform. In this article, and in her later book of the same title , Ruddick uses care ethical methodology to theorize from the lived experience of mothering, rendering a unique approach to moral reasoning and a ground for a feminist politics of peace.

Joan Tronto is most known for exploring the intersections of care ethics, feminist theory, and political science. She sanctions a feminist care ethic designed to thwart the accretion of power to the existing powerful, and to increase value for activities that legitimize shared power. She identifies moral boundaries that have served to privatize the implications of care ethics, and highlights the political dynamics of care relations which describe, for example, the tendency of women and other minorities to perform care work in ways that benefit the social elite.

See Sections 2 and 8 below. Because it depends upon contextual considerations, care is notoriously difficult to define. As Ruddick points out, at least three distinct but overlapping meanings of care have emerged in recent decades—an ethic defined in opposition to justice, a kind of labor, and a particular relationship , 4.

This definition posits care fundamentally as a practice, but Tronto further identifies four sub-elements of care that can be understood simultaneously as stages, virtuous dispositions, or goals. These sub-elements are: 1 attentiveness, a proclivity to become aware of need; 2 responsibility, a willingness to respond and take care of need; 3 competence, the skill of providing good and successful care; and 4 responsiveness, consideration of the position of others as they see it and recognition of the potential for abuse in care , Other definitions of care provide more precise delineations.

Diemut Bubeck narrows the definitional scope of care by emphasizing personal interaction and dependency. She also holds that one cannot care for oneself, and that care does not require any emotional attachment. For example, both Maurice Hamington and Daniel Engster make room for self-care in their definitions of care, but focus more precisely on special bodily features and end goals of care Hamington, ; Engster, Although these definitions emphasize care as a practice, not all moral theorists maintain this view of.

Alternatively, care is understood as a virtue or motive. James Rachels, Raja Halwani, and Margaret McLaren have argued for categorizing care ethics as a species of virtue ethics, with care as a central virtue Rachels, ; McLaren, ; Halwani, Some ethicists prefer to understand care as a practice more fundamental than a virtue or motive because doing so resists the tendency to romanticize care as a sentiment or dispositional trait, and reveals the breadth of caring activities as globally intertwined with virtually all aspects of life.

A number of criticisms have been launched against care ethics, including that it is: a a slave morality; b empirically flawed; c theoretically indistinct; d parochial, e essentialist, and f ambiguous. One of the earliest objections was that care ethics is a kind of slave morality valorizing the oppression of women Puka, ; Card, ; Davion, The concept of slave morality comes from the philosopher Frederick Nietzsche, who held that oppressed peoples tend to develop moral theories that reaffirm subservient traits as virtues.

Following this tradition, the charge that care ethics is a slave morality interprets the different voice of care as emerging from patriarchal traditions characterized by rigidly enforced sexual divisions of labor. This critique issues caution against uncritically valorizing caring practices and inclinations because women who predominantly perform the work of care often do so to their own economic and political disadvantage.

To the extent that care ethics encourages care without further inquiring as to who is caring for whom, and whether these relationships are just, it provides an unsatisfactory base for a fully libratory ethic. This objection further implies that the voice of care may not be an authentic or empowering expression, but a product of false consciousness that equates moral maturity with self-sacrifice and self-effacement.

Gilligan has been faulted for basing her conclusions on too narrow a sample, and for drawing from overly homogenous groups such as students at elite colleges and women considering abortion thereby excluding women who would not view abortion as morally permissible.

For instance, Vanessa Siddle Walker and John Snarey surmise that resolution of the Heinz dilemma shifts if Heinz is identified as Black, because in the United States African-American males are disproportionately likely to be arrested for crime, and less likely to have their cases dismissed without stringent penalties Walker and Snarey, Sandra Harding observes certain similarities between care ethics and African moralities, noting that care ethics has affinities with many other moral traditions Harding, Sarah Lucia Hoagland identifies care as the heart of lesbian connection, but also cautions against the dangers of assuming that all care relations are ideally maternalistic Hoagland, Thus, even if some women identify with care ethics, it is unclear whether this is a general quality of women, whether moral development is distinctly and dualistically gendered, and whether the voice of care is the only alternative moral voice.

However, authors like Marilyn Friedman maintain that even if it cannot be shown that care is a distinctly female moral orientation, it is plausibly understood as a symbolically feminine approach Friedman, Along similar lines some critics object that care ethics is not a highly distinct moral theory, and that it rightly incorporates liberal concepts such as autonomy, equality, and justice.

Some defenders of utilitarianism and deontology argue that the concerns highlighted by care ethics have been, or could be, readily addressed by existing theories Nagl-Docekal, ; Ma, Others suggest that care ethics merely reduces to virtue ethics with care being one of many virtues Rachels, ; Slote, a; b; McLaren, , Halwani, Although a number of care ethicists explore the possible overlap between care ethics and other moral theories, the distinctiveness of the ethic is defended by some current advocates of care ethics, who contend that the focus on social power, identity, relationship, and interdependency are unique aspects of the theory Sander-Staudt, Most care ethicists make room for justice concerns and for critically scrutinizing alternatives amongst justice perspectives.

In some cases, care ethicists understand the perspectives of care and justice as mutual supplements to one another. Other theorists underscore the strategic potential for construing care as a right in liberal societies that place a high rhetorical value on human rights. Yet others explore the benefits of integrating care ethics with less liberal traditions of justice, such as Marxism Bubeck, Another set of criticisms center around the concern that care ethics obscures larger social dynamics and is overly parochial.

Critics worry that this stance privileges elite care-givers by excusing them from attending to significant differences in international standards of living and their causes. Noddings now affirms an explicit theme of justice in care ethics that resists arbitrary favoritism, and that extends to public and international domains.

The objection that care ethics is essentialist stems from the more general essentialist critique made by Elizabeth Spelman Following this argument, early versions of care ethics have been faulted for failing to explore the ways in which women and others differ from one another, and for thereby offering a uniform picture of moral development that reinforces sex stereotypes Tronto, Critics challenge tendencies in care ethics to theorize care based on a dyadic model of a care-giving mother and a care-receiving child, on the grounds that it overly romanticizes motherhood and does not adequately represent the vast experiences of individuals Hoagland, The charge of essentialism in care ethics highlights ways in which women and men are differently implicated in chains of care depending on variables of class, race, age, and more.

Essentialism in care ethics is problematic not only because it is conceptually facile, but also because of its political implications for social justice. For example, in the United States women of color and white women are differently situated in terms of who is more likely to give and receive care, and of what degree and quality, because the least paid care workers predominantly continue to be women of color.

Likewise, lesbian and heterosexual women are differently situated in being able to claim the benefits and burdens of marriage, and are not equally presumed to be fit as care-givers. Contemporary feminist care ethicists attempt to avoid essentialism by employing several strategies, including: more thoroughly illuminating the practices of care on multiple levels and from various perspectives; situating caring practices in place and time; construing care as the symbolic rather than actual voice of women; exploring the potential of care as a gender neutral activity; and being consistently mindful of perspective and privilege in the activity of moral theorizing.

Because it eschews abstract principles and decisional procedures, care ethics is often accused of being unduly ambiguous, and for failing to offer concrete guidance for ethical action Rachels, Some care ethicists find the non-principled nature of care ethics to be overstated, noting that because a care perspective may eschew some principles does not mean that it eschews all principles entirely Held, Principles that could be regarded as central to care ethics might pertain to the origin and basic need of care relations, the evaluation of claims of need, the obligation to care, and the scope of care distribution.

On principle, it would seem, a care ethic guides the moral agent to recognize relational interdependency, care for the self and others, cultivate the skills of attention, response, respect, and completion, and maintain just and caring relationships. However, while theorists define care ethics as a theory derived from actual practices, they simultaneously resist subjectivism and moral relativism.

Because of its association with women, care ethics is often construed as a feminine ethic.

Women and caring: What can feminists learn about morality from caring? [1989]

Since oppression often involves ignoring the perspectives of the marginalized, different approaches to feminist ethics have in common a commitment to better understand the experiences of persons oppressed in gendered ways. That commitment results in a tendency, in feminist ethics, to take into account empirical information and material actualities. Not all feminist ethicists correct all of 1 through 3. Some have assumed or upheld the gender binary Wollstonecraft ; Firestone They criticize and aim to correct the privileging of men as the more morally worthy half of the binary, or argue against the maintenance of a social order that oppresses others in gendered ways. Feminist ethicists who are attentive to the intersections of multiple aspects of identity including race, class, and disability, in addition to gender, criticize and correct assumptions that men simpliciter are historically privileged, as if privilege distributes equally among all men regardless of how they are socially situated.

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Signs: journal of women in culture and society 12 4 , , Generations: Journal of the American Society on Aging 22 3 , , International Journal of Care and Caring 1 1 , , Beyond gender difference to a theory of care JC Tronto Signs: journal of women in culture and society 12 4 , , Creating caring institutions: Politics, plurality, and purpose JC Tronto Ethics and social welfare 4 2 , , Care as a basis for radical political judgments JC Tronto Hypatia 10 2 , ,

Nursing Ethics: Feminist Perspectives

Embedded in our notions of caring we can see some of the deepest dimensions of traditional gender differentiation in our society. The script runs something like this: Men care about money, career, ideas, and advancement; men show they care by the work they do, the values they hold, and the provisions they make for their families see Ehrenreich Women care for their families, neighbors, and friends; women care for their families by doing the direct work of caring. Furthermore, the script continues, men care about more important things, whereas women care about less important.

Permissions : This work is protected by copyright and may be linked to without seeking permission. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. Please contact mpub-help umich. For more information, read Michigan Publishing's access and usage policy. Feminist skeptics have criticized both service-learning and care ethics as socially conservative.

Care Ethics, Service-Learning, and Social Change
3 Response
  1. Campbell L.

    Women and Caring: What Can Feminists Learn About Morality from Caring? [​]. FULL ACCESS ByJoan C. Tronto. BookJustice and Care. Click here to.

  2. Gamsusagfie

    Women and caring: What can feminists learn about morality from caring? []. Joan C. Tronto. Political Science (Twin Cities). Research.

  3. Sylvie D.

    Normatively, care ethics seeks to maintain relationships by contextualizing and promoting the well-being of care-givers and care-receivers in a network of social relations.

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