Caring for justice, justifying care: Toward political philosophy of care
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.
0453: Womens studies
0615: Political science