ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Education and Science»
  • Philosophy

The Ethics of Care- the New Branch of Normative Ethical Theories

Updated on August 20, 2014

The Ethics of Care Theory

What are the Ethics of Care?

The ethics of care are considered to be one of the newer branches of normative ethical theories in philosophy. Normative ethics are considered to be one of the three main component areas of inquiry of philosophical ethics. Normative ethics deal with human actions. The ethics of care is a new but growing branch within normative ethics that deals with human emotions. The philosophical approach of normative ethics deals with the quest to find out what actions qualify as “right” or “wrong”. When dealing with the ethics of care “the family is the primary sphere of morality where a person can cultivate his or her character” (New World Encyclopedia, 2008). The ethics of care take the decision of right and wrong one step further by questioning the emotion and reasoning behind the action.

Carol Gilligan's Husband Does a Live Lecture on the Ethics of Care

Carol Gilligan Developed the Ethics of Care

The ethics of care was originally developed by the psychologist Carol Gilligan. Gilligan was a feminist in the 1960s who developed the theory as a result of the society around her. Later, the idea was evolved upon by Nel Noddings, the Jacks Professor Emeritus of Child Education at Stanford University, who conducted an “analysis of caring and its place in ethics (Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics and Moral Education - 1984); an attempt to rethink evil from the perspective of women (Women and Evil - 1989) and a series of books that have explored the implications of a concern for caring with education (The Challenge to Care in Schools - 1992; Educating Moral People - 2002; Happiness and Education - 2003)” (Cavallier, 2004).

Both Gilligan and Noddings have been instrumental in the spread of the ethics of care. Gilligan first developed the idea and then Noddings helped apply the idea to nursing staffs, health care, school programs, welfare programs and much, much more.

Read "The Ethics of Care: Personal, Political and Global"

Virginia Held and the Ethics of Care

Virginia Held is the author of the book "The Ethics of Care: Personal, Political and Global" In her book, Held discusses the potential possessed by this approach to care, as well as the pitfalls.

Held breaks down the theory into five categories that summarize Gilligan's approach. Held's five categories include:

  1. The focus of the approach is on the compelling moral instinct of attending to and meeting the needs of people for which we feel the need to protect
  2. The way in which ethics of care values emotions as a driving factor when it comes to a person's to want what is best for others
  3. The way in which the ethics of care rejects the view of dominant moral theories
  4. The distinction between what is private and what is public, and the importance of each
  5. The relatorial conception of people, which is a dramatic different view than most popular approaches

Herd coveres each of the above mentioned qualities of the ethics of care, and analyzes each benefit when compared to dominant theoretical approaches.

Where Herd differs from the opinions of Gilligan is when it comes to replacing justice with care. Held goes on to discuss how the ethics of care isn't a realistic approach when dealing with justice issues.

Carol Gilligan- Founder of the Ethics of Care Theory

Have you ever heard of normative ethics, also known as the ethics of care?

See results

Confucian Ethics Compared to the Ethics of Care

The ethics of care is comparable to Confucian ethics in philosophy. Whereas the ethics of care deals with the family as the primary focus where a person can cultivate his or her career, Confucian ethics is believed to be its patriarchal inspiration- a philosophical set of beliefs that focus on the self. Confucius’ moral teachings emphasized self-cultivation, emulation of moral exemplars, and the attainment of skilled judgment rather than knowledge of rules. Many attribute the ethics of care to a Confucian style of thought, where moral character and the embodiment of virtues is essential to personal development.

A Question of Ethics

Read More About Normative Ethics in Philosophy

The Ethics of Care in the Education System, the Welfare System and the Healthcare System

The ethics of care has become crucial to many present day institutions, such as the education system, the welfare system and the healthcare system. “The impartiality and the ‘standpoint of detached fairness’ advocated by liberal theories of justice, overlook, for example, the moral role of attachment to those close to us” (Cavallier, 2002). Ethics of care has become crucial in the health care fields by implementing an aspect of kindness and compassion, a component that had been foreign in such institutions prior.

"We can produce rough generalizations about how caring physicians and nurses respond to patients, for example, but these generalizations will not be subtle enough to give helpful guidance for the next patient. Each situation calls for a set of responses outside any generalization…." (Cavallier, 2002).

Nel Noddings has played a huge role in the growth of the ethics of care in institutions like the health care industry- believing that the cultivation of caring in society is crucial for any society to function properly.

Noddings has made huge strides for the fairly new philosophical view of care ethics.

“Nel Noddings is closely identified with the promotion of the ethics of care, - the argument that caring should be a foundation for ethical decision-making. Her first major work Caring (1984) explored what she described as a 'feminine approach to ethics and moral education'. Her argument starts from the position that care is basic in human life - that all people want to be cared for” (Cavallier, 2002).

Nel Noddings developed the ethics of care based on a philosophical concept of virtue. Virtue ethics have been around for much longer than care ethics and “place great importance on the ‘kind of person one is’” (Cavallier, 2002). Virtue ethics emphasizes that character is more important than conformity to rules and that virtues should be inculcated and cultivated over time through educational interactions, role models. Care of ethics is an offshoot of virtue ethics.

Part Two of Professor Gilligan's Lecture on the Ethics of Care

Comprehending Care: Problems and Possibilities in the Ethics of Care

Opponents of the Ethics of Care

Despite its many practical uses, there are opponents of care-based ethics. “Those who accept more traditional approaches to ethics argue that care ethics can promote favoritism which violates fairness and impartiality” (New World Encylcopedia, 2008). Care ethics is still in the beginning stages of its development in philosophy and needs to answer many questions regarding who the ethics of care will deal with justice, fairness and non-discrimination.

The ethics of care is a new approach in the centuries old practice of philosophy, but it is a practical one nonetheless. Both Gilligan and Noddings have made huge strides to help put care ethics in the minds of healthcare professionals, welfare workers, educators and more. Though the philosophical approach still needs much developing, it is a beneficial approach for many areas and will be a huge benefit once the idea comes to fruition.

Watch Part Three of a Live Discussion on the Ethics of Care

© 2014 Kathleen Odenthal

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Kathleen Odenthal profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Odenthal 4 years ago from Bridgewater

      Totally agree, thank you for your kind comments, I definitely agree that Gilligan is a path paver for women

    • kj force profile image

      kjforce 4 years ago from Florida

      Kathleen....Very well researched/ written hub...women like Carol Gilligan are to be admired for their " chutzpah " as they have paved the path for future women who will no longer be seen as less autonomous and less logically developed than the male gender...kudos on an awesome write,,

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is used to quickly and efficiently deliver files such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisements has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)