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The ethics of care movement is a movement in twentieth century normative ethical theory that is largely inspired by the work of psychologist Carol Gilligan. The easiest way for many people to understand care ethics is by contrasting the theory to more well-known ethical views. The popular ethical theories of utilitarianism and deontology tend to emphasize universal standards, moral rules, and impartiality. This sort of outlook is what feminist critics call a 'justice view' of morality. Gilligan and others have suggested that the history of ethics in Western culture has emphasized the justice view of morality because it is the outlook that has traditionally been cultivated and shared by men. By contrast, women have traditionally been taught a different kind of moral outlook that emphasizes solidarity, community, and caring about one's special relationships. This "care view" of morality has been ignored or trivialized because women were traditionally in positions of limited power and influence. The justice view of morality focuses on doing the right thing even if it requires personal cost or sacrificing the interest of those to whom one is close. The care view would instead say that we can and should put the interests of those who are close to us above the interests of complete strangers, and that we should cultivate our natural capacity to care for others and ourselves.
Important Names in the Ethics of Care
- Sandra Bartky
- Rita Manning
- Grace Clement
- Eva Feder Kittay