The Core of Care Ethics

Palgrave-Macmillan (2015)
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Chapter 1 Introduction This chapter briefly explains what care ethics is, what care ethics is not, and how much work there still is to be done in establishing care ethics’ scope. The chapter elaborates on care ethics’ relationship to political philosophy, ethics, feminism, and the history of philosophy. The upshot of these discussions is the suggestion that we need a unified, precise statement of care ethics’ normative core. The chapter concludes by giving an overview of the chapters to come: Chapters 2 to 5 will each develop concise statement of one of four key care ethical claims, while Chapters 6 to 8 will unify, specify, and justify those four claims under a new principle : the dependency principle. -/- Chapter 2 Scepticism about Principles Care ethicists tend to be sceptical that there is any useful role for general, abstract principles or rule in moral theory and practice. This chapter assesses this scepticism. It argues for the importance of maintaining a distinction between, on the one hand, scepticism about principles as a tool in deliberation, and, on the other hand, scepticism about principles as a ground of moral rightness. It surveys and assesses the statements made by care ethicists against principles. The conclusion is that care ethicists are correct to be somewhat sceptical about the use of principles in deliberation, but that this scepticism should not extend to principles as the source of moral rightness. -/- Chapter 3 The Value of Relationships Amongst care, a special place is often made for personal relationships. This chapter delimits and justifies this. First, it distinguishes three kinds of importance personal relationships are attributed by care ethicists –as moral paradigms, as goods to be preserved, and as sources of weighty duties. Next, it suggests such ‘relationship importance’ is not justified by the nature of personal relationships or the value of their relatives. It concludes that any personal relationship has importance in proportion to the value the relationship has to its participants. Crucially, this source of importance – a relationship’s value to participants – holds also for non-personal relationships. This allows us to understand how care ethics extends relationship importance to our relations with distant others. -/- Chapter 4 Caring Attitudes Care ethics calls upon agents to care about and for others. This chapter focus on the “about” aspect of caring: on caring attitudes. Caring attitudes are defined as pro-attitudes to the fulfilment of some entity’s interests. The moral value of these attitudes—particularly in emotions like love—is elaborated upon. However, attitudes do not seem under our voluntary control, so do not seem to be something we can be morally instructed to bear. This objection is responded to, with the explanation that we have long-term control over our attitudes and that moral theories can legitimately call upon agents to do things they cannot immediately control. Ultimately, then, care ethics’ injunction that agents hold caring attitudes is both defined and vindicated. -/- Chapter 5 Caring Actions This chapter starts by comparing and assessing the numerous definitions of care found in care ethics literature—distinguishing care, good care, bad care, and non- care. Caring actions are defined as having the intention to fulfil something’s perceived interests. The moral value of such actions is interrogated and found to be a combination off the intention’s value and the action’s consequences’ value. The chapter considers whether acknowledgment of care by the care recipient adds value to caring actions. It is suggested that such ‘ care receiving’ often, but not always, adds value to caring actions, and should not be part of the definition of care. Thus, care ethics’ imploration of agents to perform caring actions is defined. -/- Chapter 6 The Dependency Principle This chapter develops the dependency principle. This principle asserts that a moral agent, A, has a responsibility when: moral person B has an important interest that is unfulfilled; A is sufficiently capable of fulfilling that interest; and A’s most efficacious measure for fulfilling the interest will be not too costly. A incurs a weighty responsibility if ¬ to are true and A’s most efficacious measure for fulfilling the interest will be the least costly of anyone’s most efficacious measure for fulfilling B’s interest. Each of components to is elaborated on in turn. We arrive at a precise, comprehensive statement of the principle that will be used to unify, specify, and justify care ethics. -/- Chapter 7 Collective Dependency Duties It is impossible to do justice to care ethics without discussing the duties of groups—especially groups such as families and nation-states. This chapter defends the claim that the responsibilities produces by the dependency principle are, in many cases, responsibilities of groups. It develops permissive conditions that a group must meet in order to be a prospective responsibility-bearer, and explains how it is that groups’ responsibilities distribute to their individual members. This model of group responsibility is applied to states. This allows us to make sense of how the dependency principle can unify a care ethics that is greatly concerned with social and political outcomes. -/- Chapter 8 Unifying, Specifying, and Justifying Care Ethics Can the abstract, formalised ‘dependency principle ’—developed in Chapter 6 – serve as a compelling justification of the heterogeneous theory of care ethics? This chapter argues that it can. Each of the four claims of care ethics—developed in Chapters 2 to 5—is assessed in turn. Three questions are asked with regard to each. First, does the dependency principle generate some responsibilities of the relevant kind? Second, does the dependency principle generate enough responsibilities of the relevant kind? And third, does the dependency principle give the right explanation of these responsibilities? The answer each time, it is argued, is “yes”. Along the way, this answer produces some new results regarding both care ethics and the dependency principle.
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