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Lecture 6

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Hugh R Alcock

 Feminist Ethics  Criticism: traditional ethical theories demonstrate a bias, reflecting male preoccupations  Their ethical theories fail to take female perspective into account  Consequently, these theories are compromised, even wrong  Helpful way to understand this criticism is to think in terms of dichotomies that lead to difference between male and female perspectives  Public sphere vs private sphere  Reason vs passion  Command vs consensus  Public sphere --> home, domestic  Public sphere vs private sphere  Traditionally at least men have been the principal agents in the arena of public discourse. They have been the politicians, soldiers, captains of industry, etc. Women, on the other hand, have been principal agents in the arena of domestic affairs.  Ex: they're the main rearers of children and they have the most power concerning major domestic decisions. Therefore, interests of men and women diverge  Reason vs passion  There has also been perceived to be a difference in the modus operandi of women and men. They operate on different assumptions, different attitudes towards ethical problems in particular. Men tend to apply reason as much as possible, while women take a more nuanced attitude towards its application  Command vs consensus  General approach to social interactions differs in men and women  Men's thoughts are more naturally aggressive and consequently they often resolve conflicts through use of force - commanding rather than negotiating  By contrast, women are more amendable to resolving conflicts by agreement; tend to be less confrontational; less inclined to use force  Differences result of differences in nature of sexes or are they a result of cultural roles the sexes have tended to play in most societies?  Reflection of sex or gender?  Kohlberg  Lawrence Kohlberg, American psychologist, conducted experiments on children to determine moral development. By observing behaviour of children of different ages…  Asked following questions:  In Europe, woman near death from special kind of cancer. One drug doctors thought may save her. Druggist selling it but husband only has half money. Husband steals drug from druggist. Should husband have done so?  Kohlberg not interested in yes/no answer  Wanted to know reasoning behind response  6 stages of moral development:  Punishment and obedience  Right thing to do is measured in terms of avoidance of physical punishment  Immediate physical consequences of an action determine its goodness or badness  Instrumental exchange  Morality based on exchange of favours, summed up by "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours"  Right action consists of
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