The ethics of care: feminist ethics and the welfare state
LE3 .A278 1997
Bachelor of Arts
In this thesis, I look at a new theory of ethics, proposed by Nell Noddings as a response to Carol Gilligan's research on moral development. Noddings formulates a theory based on care. I look at the elements and implications of her theory as contrasted with the theories of Utilitarianism and Kantianism. I propose that the ethics of care is a viable ethical theory, when expanded beyond Noddings' formulation, and is capable of dealing with ·problems found in the realm of ethics, with justification resting on care. Such a care perspective does not lead to conflicting results as do other more traditional foundations for moral theories. Few ethical theorists would deny that an ethical theory must account for autonomy and result in some sort of universal principles in order to function as a viable theory. These two elements are necessary for the theoretical and practical application of a moral theory. Critics of the ethics of care have argued that these two elements are absent. In my attempt to show that the ethics of care is a feasible theory, I argue that autonomy may be present and that the ethics of care can result in principles applicable to the greater society. In showing that, theoretically, the ethics of care has these two elements, I demonstrate how the ethics of care can solve dilemmas using the welfare state as an example. Justification for the welfare state from the justice perspective does not completely succeed, as there are many arguments from within the tradition to the contrary. The ethics of care when properly understood provides a strong alternative, and as I argue, a stronger foundation for the justification of the welfare state.
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