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Feminist Ethics and the Ethics of Care
Alison Jaggar:
• Feminist ethics is defined by a distinctive
focus on women’s issues.
• Feminist ethics has been misconstrued by
proponents and critics.
• Many feminist writers maintain that the
values and virtues inherent in most
traditional moral theories reflect a typically
masculine perspective.
Jan Crosthwaite: Gender and Bioethics
• Feminism has a unifying theme: “the concern to
understand and eliminate the oppression of
women in all its guises.”
• Feminists have drawn attention to gender-based
inequality and discrimination and to long-held
but unsupportable assumptions about the proper
roles and moral status of women.
• Feminists have critiqued traditional notions of
ethical (and bioethical) theorizing, moral agents,
and concepts of justice.
Annette C. Baier: “The Need for
More than Justice”
• Makes a case for moral theories that can
accommodate both an ethic of justice
(thought by some to be the traditional male
view) and an ethic of care (the alleged
female view).
• “The best moral theory has to be a
cooperative product of women and men,
has to harmonize justice and care.”
Virginia Held: The Ethics of Care
• The ethics of care: A distinctive moral perspective that
arose out of feminist concerns and grew to challenge
core elements of most other moral theories.
• Traditional theories emphasize abstract principles,
general duties, individual rights, impartial judgments, and
deliberative reasoning.
• The ethics of care shifts the focus to the unique
demands of specific situations and to the virtues and
feelings that are central to close personal relationships—
empathy, compassion, love, sympathy, and fidelity.