Caring for justice, justifying care: Toward political philosophy of care

2002 2002

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Abstract (summary)

This work draws out the moral significance of the care-ethic tradition by examining its implications for political theory. I defend the care tradition against the charge that it is a slave-morality because it is conceptually incapable of addressing political conflicts. I argue that a carefully drafted feminist version of care-ethics is capable of bridging this gap because it is conceptually able to highlight concerns of both justice and care simultaneously. A perspective combining the insights of care and justice perspectives can be a distinct political as well as moral voice.

The main obstacle to this project is a tendency within the care-ethic tradition to dichotomize justice and care perspectives and construe them as independent, incommensurable, or incompatible. The dichotomy of justice/care perspectives parallels other conceptual pairs, giving it many dimensions and theoretical manifestations. The justice/care dichotomy implies that care-givers do not require understandings of justice in order to achieve the ideals of care, and that justice can be reached at the expense of the ideals of care. Any version of the care-ethic premised upon stronger versions of this dichotomy, or that has not corrected for their influence is inadequate by standards both external and internal to the care-ethic tradition.

With an eye toward the dangers and promise of such a project, I defend a politically sensitive ethic of care that navigates moral waters better than its predecessors. Feminist principles of justice fortify the politically weak points of the care tradition, especially the tendency to encourage the political marginalization of many care-givers. Theoretical attention to care rectifies the tendency of justice traditions—including much feminist thought—to discount caring labor, wish it away, or indiscriminately shift the social burdens of care to someone else. I show that any adequate treatment of moral life must embrace a model whereby justice and care are understood as mutually presupposing ideals.

Indexing (details)

Womens studies;
Political science
0422: Philosophy
0453: Womens studies
0615: Political science
Identifier / keyword
Philosophy, religion and theology; Social sciences; Care; Gender; Justice; Moral philosophy; Political philosophy
Caring for justice, justifying care: Toward political philosophy of care
Sander-Staudt, Maureen Anne
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 63/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780493733289, 0493733280
Jaggar, Alison
University of Colorado at Boulder
University location
United States -- Colorado
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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