Feminist Ethics and Rationality Revisited March 13th
Susan Sherwin- feminist ethicist.
-rooted in male bias
ethical care-can help develop traditional moral theory- missing from traditional
interconnectivity, ethic of care, paying attention to people not abstract.
-Those relational bonds, needed to have moral justification.
-Who connects- Audre Lorde- dismantling the masters home- connectivity.
Moral significant is formed in direct relationship with others.
Difference and connection.
Connection to Sherwins ethics and Lorde. Hooks too. They use the same
-A moral theory needs to address human emotions. Separate from Kantian and
Utilitarian. –They’re based on universals.
Connects to Campbell an Jagger.
-Kantian- rationality is prime. Rules are aprori- predetermined. Pre-determined not
ad hoc. Not after you look at the situation. This is different from Sherwin. If it’s
based on individual human emotion for her its fluid. Can’t develop rules for how
emotions unfold. Thou shall not kill.
Utilitarian- Acting to create the greatest good, least harm for the most population.
Different from Sherwin- too abstract. They don’t look at particular situations. She
doesn’t look at society at large. Ethic of care looks at the individual case. Pay
attention to particular people.
With thought experiments- place the decision-maker as close as possible to
the issues at stake. So the stakes can be genuinely felt, not abstractly theorized.
Direct contrast to disembodied knowledge.
Ethic of Care
-Moral significance is found in relationships, connections with others.
-reasoning from particulars; social context
-steps from notion of nonviolence
-It has referred to as an “indirect”, “empathetic” and even a “narrative mode”
-Ethic Rights, Justice
-The subject is separate from others (i.e. autonomy);
-impersonal(subject aims to be detached from issues)
-relies on abstract principles
-stem from notions of equality -Consider this- place the decision maker as close as possible to the issue or people at
stake. So the concerns of those affected can be genuinely felt, not abstractly
theorized. Contrast to disembodied knowledge. Trying to be objective, unbiased.
Standpoint epistemology- shifting who has epistemic epistemology, when power
dynamic is in play it might be beneficial to adhere to the knowledge of the person
who is in a subjugated position. Their standpoint is more valid or credible then
someone abstractly looking, then someone removed. Socially situated perspectives
can lay claim to epistemic privilege. Coincides with an ethic of care.
-Critique of an Ethic of Care- maybe it isn’t so great compared to Kantian or
-concept of care is ambiguous- not solid, no methodology.
-if the goal is just to show western thought is biased in the idea of universal
rationality. To show that philosophy have discriminate and oppress- it’s been
successful,- but is it a viable ethical theory?
-Gilligan may have made hasty generalizations. They rest on too small an
investigation. -too small sample size, not empirical. She says she was just