Vivienne Bozalek

Interview with prof. dr. Vivienne Bozalek, University of the Western Cape in South Africa.

1. Where are you working at this moment?

I am working at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), Cape Town, South Africa. I was in the Social Work Department but am now working in the Directorate of Teaching and Learning, UWC.

2. Can you tell us about your research and its relation to care ethics?

My research is about how care ethics can be used as a normative framework to examine policies, practices and events, the use of care ethics in pedagogy, responsibility, privileged irresponsibility, care ethics and pedagogy, and latterly, care and feminist new materialist ethics.

3. How did you get involved in care ethics?

I studied at Utrecht University and my supervisor was Selma Sevenhuijsen – she introduced me to care ethics and because of this I included care ethics in my dissertation and we started a course for all first year students in the Faculty of Community and Health Sciences, UWC entitled ‘Introduction to the Philosophy of Care’. I was introduced to Joan Tronto through Selma.

4. How would you describe care ethics?

Care ethics is predicated a relational ontology which asserts that individuals or entities do not pre-exist relationships but come into being through relationships. As a relational ethics moral elements such as attentiveness, response-ability, rendering each other capable, responsibility and accountability are ways of ensuring flourishing and checking how well we are doing in relation to flourishing. This includes the human, non-human and more-than-human and the world at large – i.e. it is not human-centric.

5. What is the most important thing you learned from care ethics?

The most important thing I learnt from care ethics is that it assumes a relational ontology and this changes how we see the world. I also learnt from the political ethics of care that morality and politics cannot be separated. I learnt that care is not only important for humans or in private spaces but it is important in the more-than-human and in public spaces. Care and justice go hand-in-hand for me.

6. Whom would you consider to be your most important teacher(s) and collaborators?

Selma Sevenhuijsen and Joan Tronto.

7. What publications do you consider the most important with regard to care ethics?

  • Tronto’s Moral Boundaries, Chilly Racists, Work Ethic, Caring and Democracy,
  • Sevenhuijsen Citizenship and Care,
  • Barad’s interviews on matters of fact, concern and care,
  • Vinciane Despret’s work on rendering capable,
  • Haraway’s Staying with the Trouble,
  • Cynthia Willet Interspecies Ethics and
  • Eben Kirksey’s The Multispecies Salon.

8. Which of your own books/articles/projects should we learn from?

  • Bozalek, V. (2014) Privileged Irresponsibility In G. Olthuis, H. Kohlen and J. Heier (eds.) Moral boundaries redrawn: The significance of Joan Tronto’s argument for political theory, professional ethics, and care practice. Leuven: Peeters. 51-725
  • Bozalek, V. (2014) Integrating difference and care into social justice: Towards a normative framework for care, welfare & social cohesion. In V. Reddy, S. Meyer, T. Shefer & T. Meyiwa (Eds.), Care in Context: Transnational Gender Perspectives. Pretoria: HSRC.
  • Bozalek, V. (2015). Privilege and responsibility in the South African context. In Marian Barnes, Tula Brannelly, Lizzie Ward and Nicki Ward (eds.) Ethics of Care: critical advances in international perspective. Bristol: Policy Press, University of Bristol. Pp. 83-94.
  • Bozalek, V. (2016) Methodological tools for researching emotions: A political ethics of care perspective. In Zembylas, M. and P. Schutz Methodological Advances in Research on Emotion and Education. Switzerland: Springer pp. 191-202.
  • Bozalek, V. (2016) The Political Ethics of Care and Feminist Posthuman Ethics: Contributions to Social Work.In Richard Hugman and Jan Carter (eds.) Rethinking Values and Ethics in Social Work. Palgrave MacMillan. Pp. 80 – 96

9. What are important issues for care ethics in the future?

Climate change, the capitalocene, the plantationocene, the retraction of state services, the international swing to the right, continuing inequalities.

10. How may care ethics contribute to society as a whole, do you think?

Care ethics would change the way society is structured and enable participatory parity. Seeing the world from a relational perspective can assist in ‘staying with the trouble’ (Haraway, 2016) we find ourselves in. We need to foreground attentiveness, responsibility, accountability, rendering each other capable, response-ability in order to attempt to flourish as best possible. The ethics of care would enable this.

11. Do you know of any research-based projects in local communities, institutions or on national levels, where ‘care’ is central? Please describe.

Only the National Research Foundation project that I am currently involved with on Re-imagining higher education pedagogies.

12.  The aim of the consortium is to further develop care ethics internationally by creating connections between people who are involved in this interdisciplinary field, both in scientific and societal realms. Do you have any recommendations for us?

It would be great to have a colloquium or conference where we could bring people together or a broader research project which could accommodate the interests of a broader international group of care ethicists.

Vivienne Bozalek

June 2017

Helen Kohlen

Interview with prof. dr. Helen Kohlen, Philosophical-Theological University of Vallendar (Koblenz) in Germany.

1. Where are you working at this moment?

I am working at the Philosophical-Theological University of Vallendar (Koblenz) in Germany. It is a small private university that has just been building up an ethics institute in which I am working as a co-director. I teach ethics and palliative care in the nursing faculty. Since 2015, a visiting professorship at the University for Humanistic Studies in Utrecht brought about a close collaboration with care ethicists in Utrecht.

2. Can you tell us about your research and its relation to the ethics of care?

My research addresses the ethics of care in the context of health care practices and the distribution of care work in society. Within this broad research field and having a background in Health Care Studies, English Literature, Political Science and Nursing I have a number different interests.

My first book Conflicts of Care (2009) was based on a field research in clinical ethics. I studied hospital ethics committees in the US and in Germany by foregrounding the development of Bioethics. I found out that the ethics of care has historically been marginalized as a theoretical approach to understand conflicts in clinical practice. Since the language of care is hardly used in German hospital ethics committees, conflicts that could have been represented from an ethics of care perspective tend to be sidelined and dismissed.

Based on the findings, in 2010 a participatory action research project was designed with the intention of developing a program that would empower professional health care actors to move ethics in practice by bringing in care ethical perspectives. I have recently completed a chapter for a new edited collection, Evaluation, Care and Society. It is edited by Merel Visse and Tineke Abma and will be published soon.
My chapter is called Evaluation for Moving Ethics in Health Care Services towards Democratic Care and addresses care ethics as an ongoing practice that involves learning process of democratisation. It describes a model that consists of the three pillars Education, Companionship and Open Space.

3. How did you get involved into the ethics of care?

First, the ethics of care was a finding of my historical analysis ‘The move of bioethics to the bedside‘, seeing that the ethics of care appeared to be as a kind of counter-movement to US- American Bioethics in the 1980s.
Second, I read Elisabeth Conradi’s book ‘Take Care. Grundlagen einer Ethik der Achtsamkeit’ (2001) which I found very convincing. The book inspired me to read Joan Tronto’s book ‘Moral Boundaries. A Political Argument for an Ethics of Care’ (1994).

In 2006 I invited Joan Tronto to the University of Hannover in Germany and she had a lecture on the ethics of care and politics. Since then I have continuously been reading, writing and talking about the ethics of care. For example, I organized a conference (together with Hartmut Remmers) on Bioethics, Care and Gender and we published a collection of articles under this title (2010). In 2014 I coedited (with Gert Olthius & Jorma Heier) the book Moral Boundaries Redrawn. The Significance of Joan Tronto’s Arguments for Political Theory, Professional Ethics, and Care as Practice.

4. How would you define ethics of care?

I would define care ethics as a moral attitude and a set of practices that starts by seeing the human being as being basically dependent and vulnerable. The focus is the relational with regard to the concrete other and the concrete situation in time and space. In my studies I use care ethical questions within a critical lens to analyse what is missing in daily health care practices. These questions raise issues of conflict, power, inequality and irresponsibility.

5. What is the most important thing you learned from the ethics of care?

I have learned that ethics can never be separated from politics and that doing care ethics in the health care arena can never be separated from doing political care ethics. I have also learned that the ethics of care is a movement of people who try to stand up against neo-liberalism.

6. Whom do you consider to be your most important teacher(s) in this area?

Among the ones who have explicitly worked on the ethics of care I consider Carol Gilligan, Joan Tronto, Elisabeth Conradi, M.U. Walker, Annelies van Heijst, Eva Feder Kittay, Frigga Haug to be my most important teachers.

7. What works in the ethics of care do you see as the most important?

  • Carol Gilligan (1982): In a Different Voice, Psychological Theory and Women’s Development. Harvard University Press;
  • Joan Tronto (1994): Moral Boundaries, Political Argument for an Ethics of Care. Routledge;
  • Tronto, Joan (2013): Caring Democracy. Markets, Equality, and Justice. New York, London;
  • Elisabeth Conradi (2001): Take Care, Grundlagen einer Ethik der Achtsamkeit. Frankfurt am Main 2001;
  • Annelies van Heijst (2011): Professional Loving Care, An Ethical View of the Healthcare Sector. Peeters – Leuven;
  • Philips, Susan; Benner, Patricia (1994): The Crisis of Care, Affirming and Restoring Caring Practices in the Helping Professions. Georgetown University Press.

8. Which of your own books/articles should we read?

  • Helen Kohlen (2009): Conflicts of Care, Hospital Ethics Committees in the USA and Germany. Campus Verlag;
  • Hartmut Remmers & Helen Kohlen (2010): Bioethics, Care and Gender, Herausforderungen Fur Medizin, Pflege Und Politik (in German). V&R Unipress GmbH;
  • Olthuis, Gert; Kohlen, Helen; Heier, Jorma (2014): Moral Boundaries Redrawn. The significance of Joan Tronto’s Argument for Political Theory, Professional Ethics, and Care as Practice. Peeters Publishers 2014;
  • Kohlen, Helen: Care transformations – attentiveness, professional ethics and thoughts towards differentiation. Commentary, Nursing Ethics 18, March 2011: 258-261 (peer-reviewed);
  • Kohlen, Helen: Sorge als Arbeit und Ethik der Sorge – Verbindungslinien zwischen beiden wissenschaftlichen Diskursen. In: Conradi, Elisabeth; Vosman, Frans (2016): Praxis der Achtsamkeit: Schlüsselbegriffe der Care-Ethik. Fankfurt, New York: Campus, S. 193-225;
  • Kohlen, Helen: Sterben als Regelungsbedarf, Palliative Care und die Sorge um das Ganze. Ethik in der Medizin, 2016, 28(1), 1-4.

9. What are important issues for the ethics of care in the future?

First, on a rather theoretical level, I think it is important to continue talking about the ethics of care and render visible what it can do in contrast to other theories.
Second, on a rather empirical level it needs to be shown what comes up when issues of concern are debated from a care ethics perspective as for example, in the area of bioethics, the debate about embryonic research.
Third, within the field of medicine and nursing it is important to refine the questions within an ethics of care for specific areas like neonatal care or dementia care.

10. In Utrecht our ambition is to promote ethics of care nationally and internationally. Do you have any recommendations or wishes?

I want to thank you very much for the excellent work you are doing in this area, currently, especially for organizing the Care Ethics Research Consortium.
From a teaching perspective I wonder, what could be done to distribute all the good work on the ethics of care that is already out there and I have the idea of writing a textbook for graduate students.
From a research perspective, I would be interested in a European Research Project on the Ethics of Care in Clinical Care.

Hee-Kang Kim

Interview with dr. Hee-Kang Kim, University of Korea, South Korea.

1. Where are you working at this moment?

I am working at the department of Public Administration at the Korea University.

2. Can you tell us about your research and its relation to care ethics?

I teach public philosophy, normative policy analysis, and women’s studies at the university. My research interests are social justice, care ethics, feminism, and the normative understanding of public policy. Especially recently, I am interested in re-evaluating public policy and identifying and rectifying the injustice of society from the perspective of care ethics. In 2016, I published a book, Gyubeomjeok Jeongchaek Bunseok [A Normative Policy Analysis], which was selected as an excellent academic book by the Korean Academy of Sciences.

I am currently writing a book on the caring state where care ethics is treated as one of the important normative principles of justice on which laws and major institutions are grounded. In addition, there are three other research projects currently under study.
The first is the study of care as a constitutional value. In this study, I argue that care which is inevitably linked to freedom, equality, and justice should be treated as a constitutional value. In particular, I think this study is very important to contribute to Korean society, which is currently discussing the amendment of the Constitution.
The second is the study of the theoretical elaboration on care ethics. In this study, care ethics as a moral and political theory is referred to as “carism,” and the non-liberal and non-communitarian nature of “carism” is sought.
The third is about the democratization of care. The existing socialization of care has contributed to the challenge of the private/public distinction and the social recognition of care. However, the democratization of care is a study on the quality of the socialization of care which can go a step further in the socialization of care and judge which socialization of care is good.

3. How did you get involved in care ethics?

I have been interested in the literature of care ethics from the viewpoint of social justice and feminism. Recently, I have translated several major books (Joan Tronto’s Caring Democracy, Eva Kittay’s Love’s Labor, Virginia Held’s The Ethics of Care, and Daniel Engster’s The Heart of Justice) on care ethics into Korean and introduced them to South Korea.

4. How would you describe care ethics?

In short, it is a theory that redefines the value of care at the societal and political level.

5. What is the most important thing you learned from care ethics?

On the individual level, I think, care ethics reminds us of our fundamental and nested ethical duty (which is preceded by a priori rights) to others who live together. On the societal level, care ethics provides a normative perspective that helps to identify and rectify the persistent and systematic inequalities and injustices of society. On the global level, care ethics provides a motivation where intimate care for our families and neighbors is transferred (transited) to care for others in distant countries.

6. Whom would you consider to be your most important teacher(s) and collaborators?

I have been largely influenced by Iris Young’s study on structural injustice, although she is not a scholar of care ethics. I also get a lot of inspiration from the studies by Eva Kittay, Joan Tronto, Virginia Held, Daniel Engster, and Selma Sevenhuijsen. In South Korea, there are a few scholars who study care-related theory, and there are a number of scholars who study carework and care-related social policy.

7. What publications do you consider the most important with regard to care ethics?

Joan Tronto’s Moral Boundaries and Eva Kittay’s Love’s Labor.

8. Which of your own books/articles/projects should we learn from?

Much of my existing research is to re-evaluate public policy/social policy from the normative perspective of care ethics. What is written in English includes “Is Long-term Care Insurance in South Korea a Socialising Care Policy?” (Critical Social Policy 36(4), 2016) and “Basic Income and Care Ethics” (unpublished). My current project is a book on the caring state. There are some published articles in Korean related to the subject of this book. It aims at identifying and rectifying the structural inequality of society from the viewpoint of care ethics and drawing the philosophical foundation, system, and policy of government compatible with care.

9. What are important issues for care ethics in the future?

Perhaps in principle, defining the concept of care and formulating the theory of care ethics are likely to be the most challenging issues in future research.
First, although care is a universal experience from which everyone is inescapable, care relationships are very particular depending on the specific context and situation. In particularly, how to define care in different cultural and national contexts would be a difficult task to challenge.
Second, it is about establishing the theory of care ethics. The establishment of the theory of care ethics, which is distinct from other moral and political theories, such as liberalism, communitarianism, and republicanism, would be a major challenge for the future.

10. How may care ethics contribute to society as a whole, do you think?

Care ethics can contribute to making society more just and better. It is because care ethics allows us to know how much individuals and society are exposed to social justice by our negligence of care responsibility, and thus have contributed (un)consciously to social injustice. As a result, care ethics reminds us that we have a shared and collective responsibility for a better society.

11. Do you know of any research-based projects in local communities, institutions or on national levels, where ‘care’ is central? Please describe.

There has not been much care-related research in South Korea. Recently, however, Korean translations of major books on care ethics have been introduced to the public. Apart from the theoretical research on care, many care-related policies are being proposed by central and local governments since the current Korean society faces the serious social problems of low fertility and aging.

12. The aim of the consortium is to further develop care ethics internationally by creating connections between people who are involved in this interdisciplinary field, both in scientific and societal realms. Do you have any recommendations or wishes yourself?

I hope that this consortium can demonstrate the possibility of care ethics outreaching around the world. I am firmly convinced that care has the full potential to do so. Just as the concept of human rights, which emerged from abstract natural law, has contributed to changing the world for the last fifty years, so care, which is not abstract but comes from everyday experiences of everyone, can contribute to making the world better in the near and foreseeable future. What we need to do now is to re-establish the value of care. This is where care ethics plays. I hope the consortium will be the beginning of this.

Leslie Swartz

Interview with Leslie Swartz, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa.

1. Where are you working at this moment?

Most of my work is in the area of disability studies, with a special emphasis on disability rights issues in Southern Africa. I also work on mental health issues.

2. Can you tell us about your research and its relation to care ethics?

It is impossible to work in the area of disability studies and not be interested in some way in care ethics. In our work on disability and access to health care, we are interested in the role played by informal paid or unpaid workers in disability care. In other work on language and access to mental health care, we have come to see the crucial but often invisibilised role played by cleaners and security guards in health care in low income contexts.

These are just two examples. I have also done some reflective work on questions of exploitative relationships with care workers in the context of chronic illness, drawing on my own experience with the illness and death of my mother.

3. How did you get involved in care ethics?

I worked on a project with Vivienne Bozalek and Brenda Leibowitz and others on university transformation issues in South Africa and it was Vivienne and Brenda who introduced me to the field. Vivienne then invited Joan Tronto to South Africa and I grew very interested in her work. I am quite marginal to the field of care ethics – it is not my main area of concern but it has really influenced my thinking.

4. What is the most important thing you learned from care ethics?

Two apparently simple things, but profound for me and my thinking:  that we all rely on care all the time, and that care is often made invisible, with this invisibility often linked to exploitation commonly on lines of race, gender, class.

5. Whom would you consider to be your most important teacher(s) and collaborators?

In the care ethics field in South Africa I have been very influenced by Vivienne Bozalek and Brenda Leibowitz, and Joan Tronto’s work is very important to me. More generally, I am very fortunate to have a wide range of people I work with in disability studies and mental health, some of them senior to me but some of them my students and I have learned from them all.

One person who had a huge influence on me personally and professionally was the late Alexander Phiri, who was secretary general of the Southern African Federation on Disability (SAFOD), which represents Disabled People’s Organizations in ten southern African countries. Alexander was a consummate disability activist who was seriously concerned with the political and personal development of people he worked with. He was very open and not doctrinaire, and extremely pragmatic.

He lived in Zimbabwe and witnessed multiple assaults on rights, including the rights of disabled people, and he was able in a range of ways to make changes in difficult contexts. He also had the openness and generosity to accept me as a white non-disabled South African man to do some work for his organization – he was very aware of difference and identity but was able to see past the obvious and to think about what was best for his organization and the people it served. He was not an academic but he knew a lots about care.

6. What publications do you consider the most important with regard to care ethics?

A paper which Joan Tronto does not herself regard as a major contribution, published in Ethics and Social Welfare on what constitutes a caring institution has been very useful indeed for me and colleagues.

7. Which of your own books/articles/projects should we learn from?

I am not an expert in this field but I think that we have used care ethics concepts in slightly different contexts – so our contribution is more about some applications than about bringing new knowledge as such.  Here are some examples:

  • Smith, J., Swartz, L., Kilian, S., & Chiliza, B.  (2013).  Mediating words, mediating worlds: Interpreting as hidden care work in a South African psychiatric institution.  Transcultural Psychiatry, 50, 493-514.  DOI: 10.1177/1363461513494993.
  • Swartz, L., & Kilian, S.  (2014).  The invisibility of informal interpreting in mental health care in South Africa: notes towards a contextual understanding.  Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 38, 700-711.  DOI 10.1007/s11013-014-9394-7.
  • Swartz, L.  (2015).  Care and the luxury of trauma: A South African story.  Palliative and Supportive Care, 13, 399-404.  doi:10.1017/S147895151400042X.
  • Swartz, L.  (2012).  Race, gender, and the impossibilities of care.  Medical Humanities, 38, 34-37. doi:10.1136/medhum-2011-010073.

8. What are important issues for care ethics in the future?

I think we need to know much more about men as carers and also about the importance of being a carer for people who are cast as in need of care (for example, disabled people and people with serious mental disorder caring for others). The question of the impact of technology on ecologies of care in low-income contexts is also an important one.

9. How may care ethics contribute to society as a whole, do you think?

I think it is crucial to understand care and interdependence as central to life, public, private and political.  The effacing of care from a range of discourses is a serious erasure.

10. The aim of the consortium is to further develop care ethics internationally by creating connections between people who are involved in this interdisciplinary field, both in scientific and societal realms. Do you have any recommendations or wishes yourself?

My work is very interdisciplinary and quite scattered in some ways.  I am very lucky to be learning from people who are more clearly focused on care ethics than I am, and I am grateful for this. I think the insights of this approach need to be disseminated to every discipline.  Thank you for allowing me to learn from this field.

Joan Tronto

Interview with Joan Tronto, Professor of Political Science, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.

1. Where are you working at this moment?

At the University of Minnesota.

2. Can you tell us about your research and its relation to care ethics?

I’ve been writing about care ethics for about thirty years.  My current research involves thinking about care from a global perspective.

3. How did you get involved in care ethics?

Two ways.  As a feminist scholar, I kept thinking about the political cost if women decided that they should join “the mainstream of American society” in “equal partnership with men” (as the National Organization for Women’s founding document put it).  What would we lose as a society if middle-class women became just like middle-class men?

I began talking to my students about my “feminist nightmare” when women, no longer constrained by the caste barriers that had kept them out of some occupations and professions, passed the caring work in society over to poorer women and men and people of color.  So I was paying attention to care as work.

On a more philosophical level, and I am trained as a political theorist, I was part of a feminist faculty development seminar at Hunter College in 1983. When we read Carol Gilligan’s just-published book, In a Different Voice, I was struck that the care-justice distinction there seemed parallel to a different philosophical moment. I was struck by the similarity between this difference and the one between Scottish Enlightenment philosophies and Kantian ethics. This parallel led me to think more systematically about care, as Gilligan and others were describing it, and non-Kantian models of ethics.

4. How would you describe care ethics?

Care ethics is both a moral and political concept that emphasizes the centrality of care in human life.  Democracies should support democratic care.

5. What is the most important thing you learned from care ethics?

Oh my gosh, there is so much to say here.
First, that ethics comes out of daily life, not in huge pronouncements of right and wrong from the sky.
Second, that one must look at all care activities from various perspectives, from the standpoint of receivers as well as givers of care.
Third, that there are not singular but plural answers to questions about what it means to care well.
Fourth that bad forms of care can deceive us into thinking unjust things are OK.

6. Whom would you consider to be your most important teacher(s) and collaborators?

My most important teacher in political theory was my dissertation adviser, Sheldon Wolin, whose work on the important of theory in an age in which thought becomes increasingly dessicated remains with me everyday.

I have learned immensely from Hannah Arendt, and Simone Weil, and my dear friend Mary Dietz, who is a scholar of their thought.  Carol Gilligan, Sara Ruddick, Virginia Held, Nel Noddings, and Eva Kittay have taught me so much.

My first most important collaborator was Berenice Fisher.  It took us two years to write the essay ‘Toward a Feminist Theory of Care’, in which we defined care and discussed the first four phases of care.  Selma Sevenhuijsen was my close interlocutor for decades and raised basic questions and brought insights to the study of care that are with me everyday.

Henk Manschot taught me to think about care from the perspective of the care-receiver. Guy Widdershoven has kept me well educated about developments of care ethics in bioethics. Fiona Robinson’s application of care in international relations helps me to think more globally.  Fiona Williams’s fantastic work on social policy is so insightful. Olena Hankivsky’s way to reorganizing care was important to me, as is her critique of care from an intersectional perspective.

Truthfully, I have learned so much from my graduate students and younger colleagues, too.  Among graduate students with whom I have worked on care ethics, Dan Skinner, Jocelyn Boryczka and Vivienne Bozalek have taught me so much.  And I keep meeting scholars from whom I learn so much all the time.  I’m afraid I’ve left some people out…

7. What publications do you consider the most important with regard to care ethics?

I’ll leave my own work off this list;  Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice. I learn something new every time I re-read Ruddick’s Maternal Thinking.  Held, An Ethic of Care Kittay, Love’s Labor. Sevenhuijsen’s Citizenship and the Ethics of Care (though I like the Dutch title, “Judging with Care” better).  Dan Engster’s The Heart of Justice. Among recent books, I am fond of Stephanie Collins, The Core of Care Ethics.

8. Which of your own books/articles/projects should we learn from?

Even though it is over twenty years old, Moral Boundaries is still worth reading in its entirety; and Caring Democracy shows what care should look like in a more democratic society.

9. What are important issues for care ethics in the future?

In the most immediate future, there are a couple of key issues, all of which have to do with expanding the arena of care:

  1. Recognizing the connection between care and the struggles of disabled people, indigenous people, and others who are not fully included in society.
  2. Overcoming the parochialism and tribalism of the recent turn to the right in Europe, the USA, and elsewhere, which, of course, can be expressed as a care discourse.
  3. Recognizing the danger to care givers and receivers everywhere (that is, all of us) from neoliberal economic orders.
  4. Understanding how care operates to meet need differently everywhere in the world and trying to be attentive to all such forms of care.
  5. Finally, perhaps most importantly, our need to care for the earth.

10. How may care ethics contribute to society as a whole, do you think?

By reorienting us towards the things that really matter.

11. Do you know of any research-based projects in local communities, institutions or on national levels, where ‘care’ is central?

There are movements growing up everywhere, to improve the conditions of care workers, to strengthen the voice and rights of disabled people, indigenous people, to stop religious persecution, to make all feel welcome. Many of my undergraduate students have become more politically aware in recent months; we can hope that this continues.

12. The aim of the consortium is to further develop care ethics internationally by creating connections between people who are involved in this interdisciplinary field, both in scientific and societal realms. Do you have any recommendations or wishes yourself?

I am an optimistic person by nature.  I hope that the Consortium can reach an international audience at both the scholarly and political level.

Earlier, in 2009 we interviewed Joan Tronto on similar topics.

Maurice Hamington

Interview with Maurice Hamington, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, USA.

1. Where are you working at this moment?

I work at Portland State University where I am a Professor of Philosophy and the Executive Director of University Studies which is an interdisciplinary integrated undergraduate general education curriculum. Our community of 50 full time faculty, hundreds of part-time faculty, and 100 peer mentors emphasize inclusion and justice in a caring culture for ourselves and the students we work with.

2. Can you tell us about your research and its relation to care ethics?

I am a feminist ethicist who addresses both theoretical and applied elements of care ethics.  In particular, I have emphasized the embodied and performative aspects of care in contending that care ethics is more than a normative theory of morality.  For me, care has ontological and epistemological dimensions in addition to its ethical significance.

In terms of books, I most recently co-edited the volume Care Ethics and Political Theory with Dan Engster (Oxford 2015).  In 2017, I have published articles on care ethics and design thinking (Journal of Business Ethics) as well as on care ethics and haiku (Juxtapositions: The Journal of Haiku Research and Scholarship with Ce Rosenow).
Also in 2017, I have contributed chapters on care ethics to Compassionate Migration and Regional Policy. Steven W. Bender and William Arrocha, eds. (Palgrave Macmillan), Evaluation for A Caring Society, Merel Visse and Tineke Abma, eds. (Information Age Publishing, Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Empathy, Heidi Maibom, ed., (Routledge), and Pets and People, Christine Overall, ed. (Oxford University Press).

As one can see, my research interests are quite varied.  At this time, I am working on chapters on care ethics and phenomenology as well as care ethics and performance.  I will be editing a special issue of the International Journal of Care and Caring on care ethics.

3. How did you get involved in care ethics?

I was introduced to care ethics in a graduate feminist theory course.  I was attracted to the idea from my first exposure.  I can remember where I was when in the early 1990’s I first read Nel Noddings’ Caring. I wrote my philosophy Ph.D. dissertation on care ethics and embodiment.

4. How would you describe care ethics?

Care ethics is a relational approach to morality that emphasizes understanding the context of others to better deliver responsive care. More than a normative ethical theory, care ethics has ontological and epistemological dimensions. It is founded in a relational ontology and human corporeal existence.  Rather than abstract rules or rights, all care recenters ethics on our humanity and its fundamental relational existence.
Furthermore, all care originates and is experienced through the body. In this manner, I have argued that care can be described as a performance, the iterations of which can develop skill, habits, and sense of identity.

people in conversation
Listening and exchange are necessary for care

5. What is the most important thing you learned from care ethics?

I have learned so much from exploring care ethics that I could respond to this question in many ways.
One response is in regard to how important listening is to care.  Authentic and active listening is a skill of inquiry that is crucial for effective care. Without listening, caring actions are undertaken without complete understanding of context and are more likely to be ineffective and off the mark. Listening is not given much attention in ethical theorizing but it is hard to imagine caring without the attentiveness of listening.

6. Whom would you consider to be your most important teacher(s) and collaborators?

I have had the good fortune of working with a number of outstanding care theorists including Nel Noddings, Joan Tronto, Fiona Robinson, Dan Engster and Michael Slote on various publications. Care is such a rich field of exploration that I find all of these scholars and their unique approach to care ethics as contributing to my understanding of care. I am particularly attracted to theorists who view care ethics as something more than an alternative way to adjudicate ethical dilemmas. Although care has important normative implications, it is much more than just another ethical theory.

7. What publications do you consider the most important with regard to care ethics?

This was an easier question to answer twenty years ago than it is today given the burgeoning number of publications in this area. For me, foundational texts include Nel Noddings, Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics and Moral Education (1984); Joan Tronto, Moral Boundaries: A Political Argument for An Ethic of Care (1993); and, Fiona Robinson, The Ethics of Care and Global Politics (1999).  Each of these authors has sharpened their arguments about care in subsequent books. The number of care authors that I am interested in has grown tremendously in recent years including the works of Daniel Engster, Maria Puig de la Bellacasa, Elena Pucini, and Vrinda Dalmiya.

Given my interest in the performativity of care, I am interested in seeing where James Thompson takes the notion of care and aesthetics after his article, “Towards An Aesthetics of Care” Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance (2015). This is a very generative time in care ethics and I look forward to seeing what new insights will emerge.

8. Which of your own books/articles/projects should we learn from?

Although it is a bit dated now, Embodied Care (2004) lays out an understanding of care ethics grounded in embodiment.
“Care Ethics and Confronting Intersectional Difference through the Body,” in Critical Philosophy of Race 3:1 (2015) is an article that endeavors to apply the embodied care framework to issues of race.
“Knowledge, Competence and Care” in Merel Visse and Tineke Abma, eds., Evaluation for A Caring Society. Information Age Publishing, 2017 is a chapter that addresses issues of both epistemology and the effectiveness of care.

Given the range of applications and theoretical concepts I have endeavored to address, I recommend checking out my works at and seeing if there are subjects of interest.

9. What are important issues for care ethics in the future?

Care ethics is no longer a boutique theory of a few people in one or two disciplines. It has garnered world-wide attention across many fields. As such, theorists are framing care within their own discipline or branch of discipline. Although the widespread interest is exciting, it also means that many scholars are endeavoring to describe care in definitive ways.
I worry that care will lose its critical and postmodern edge if it is boxed into certain theoretical constraints. So, I think an important issue for care ethics is how its definition evolves as it moves into mainstream academic discussions.[pullquote]How will care ethics make its way into narratives outside of academia?[/pullquote]

Another, major issue is how will care ethics make its way into narratives outside of academia. Today, care ethics is almost exclusively an intellectual narrative. To make a significant difference in the world, scholars will need to translate care into accessible discourse for a wider audience.

10. How may care ethics contribute to society as a whole, do you think?

The potential of care ethics to positively impact the world is enormous. Deep authentic care is a product of inquiry in an attempt to really understand the other. If societies and their leaders and institutions adopted this approach as their guiding moral framework then there would be less stereotyping and scapegoating of groups of people.

We could learn from our differences and build stronger communities committed to the welfare of all members. Care can be a grassroots revolution that leads policy change as societies adopt a disposition of understanding rather than fear of difference. Ultimately, violent action would be seen as more of a last resort than it is today.

11. Do you know of any research-based projects in local communities, institutions or on national levels, where ‘care’ is central?

One of the challenges of this question is definitional. Care is a ubiquitous term. There are many institutions, including for-profit corporations, that have placed care as their central theme, such as in the field of health care.  However,” care ethics” has a more precise understanding as a relational moral approach responsive to the contexts of individuals.

I am only aware of a few institutions that have taken care ethics seriously in their work. The University of Humanistic Studies and its graduate programs in care ethics headed by Carlo Leget is one of those institutions. Another is the care ethics laboratory in Belgium, sTimul. I am hoping that the efforts of the new The International Journal of Care and Caring is a sign that more such research efforts grounded in care ethics will emerge.

12. The aim of the consortium is to further develop care ethics internationally by creating connections between people who are involved in this interdisciplinary field, both in scientific and societal realms. Do you have any recommendations or wishes yourself?

I am humbled and honored to participate in the consortium. There are many possibilities for collaborative projects to emerge from such a gathering. Perhaps one recommendation is that the group consider the possibility of public scholarship projects. In other words, are their means by which this important care ethics scholarship might be translated for public consumption so as to infuse care ethics language and thinking into social narratives rather than just academic discourse.


Sophie Bourgault

Interview with dr. Sophie Bourgault, director of the axis Ethics of Care and Associate Professor, School of Political Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ottawa.

1. Where are you working at this moment?

I teach political theory at the University of Ottawa, Canada.

2. Can you tell us about your research and its relation to the ethics of care?

Some of my recent publications have considered the ethics of hospitality (whether articulated in some ancient Greek political thought, in French Enlightenment sources or in contemporary political theory).  In all three cases, I was struck by the affinities between the ethics of care and the ethics of hospitality (both attach great importance to empathy, openness to alterity, attentiveness, etc.).
But rather than claim that both ethics are more or less about the same thing, I have argued that the ethics of care is a powerful critical tool with which to reexamine accounts of hospitality ethics (too many are insufficiently attentive to the heavily gendered dimensions of hospitality).
Also, much of my work in the last three years has concerned itself with the political thought of Simone Weil and Hannah Arendt, two thinkers who are often invoked in the literature on care as you know.

3. How did you get involved into the ethics of care?

During my doctoral studies, I had already spent some time writing on the question of whether an ethics of care could be a truly feminist ethics (I answered in the affirmative then and I am still convinced that this answer was the correct one).  But then I largely put that literature aside as I wrote my doctoral thesis.  It is only five years later, at the University of Ottawa, that I returned to care ethics.  What largely drew me back was my work on Simone Weil (and more specifically, her understanding of love/compassion and her account of human needs and political obligations).

4. How would you define ethics of care?

If I had to define it most simply, I would say that it is an ethics that gives pride of place to the fundamental vulnerability and interdependence that are constitutive of the human being.  It is also an ethics that attaches great weight to particulars, contexts, and relationships in moral and political judgment. It is an ethics that places human needs (rather then rights) at the forefront of its account of socio-political life, and it is an ethics that is primarily concerned (as Carol Gilligan’s early work showed well) with answering the following question: “how should I respond?” (instead of ‘what is right?’).

5. What is the most important thing you learned from the ethics of care?

I think that one of the most important things the ethics of care have offered since Gilligan is a rich and original conception of voice. It is a highly relational account that attaches a great deal of importance to attentive listening, to hearing. As I argued last year in a talk on care, I think that the ethics of care profoundly challenges our logocentric, Aristotelian tradition—a tradition that has assigned great importance to speaking, and almost none to genuine listening.

Here is one of the chief ideas of Simone Weil, who insisted repeatedly during her short life that social justice and a decent, meaningful civic life was impossible without genuine, active listening.  While this might strike some as a platitude, I would suggest that theorizing listening and making listening central to democratic life today is really far from obvious and that it is a great challenge.

6. Whom do you consider to be your most important teacher(s) in this area?

There have been so many.  To name a few: I’ve learned a great deal from Fiona Robinson, Patricia Paperman, Pascale Molinier, Sandra Laugier, Fabienne Brugère, Carol Gilligan, Elena Pulcini and Joan Tronto.  More recently, I’ve also taken a great deal of interest in the work of Marie Garrau and Alice LeGoff, who have, as you know, worked on orchestrating an exciting (if not entirely unproblematic) dialogue between neo-republicanism and care ethics.

7. What works in the ethics of care do you see as the most important?

Like countless others, I think that Gilligan’s In a Different Voice was the pivotal work in the development of the ethics of care. And so was Joan Tronto’s Moral Boundaries. It is unfortunate that Sara Ruddick’s Maternal Thinking has fallen off the radar (I think it is a book that has been misunderstood and that it would be worth revisiting).

8. Which of your own books/articles should we read?

I suppose that in order to understand why I’m convinced that care theorists should return to Simone Weil (not for her concept of attention but for her account of human needs and her critique of rights discourse), they should read my piece ‘Beyond the saint and the red virgin: Simone Weil as feminist theorist of care’ ((Sophie Bourgault. (2014). Beyond the Saint and the Red Virgin: Simone Weil as Feminist Theorist of Care. Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, 35(2), 1-27. )).  I also have a forthcoming (2015) edited volume on the ethics and politics of care (co-edited with Julie Perreault), which would allow you to appreciate the wonderful and diverse work done on care in French-speaking Canada.

9. What are important issues for the ethics of care in the future?

As I have argued a few times in the past, I think that care theorists should take a much closer look at the question of institutions -including bureaucratic ones. My colleague Julie Perreault is involved in a great project which I also think would be worthy of a lot more attention by care theorists all over the world; establishing a conversation between care feminism and aboriginal feminism.

10. Our ambition is to promote ethics of care nationally and internationally. Do you have any recommendations or wishes?

I think that this is a wonderful project! I will admit that I’m particularly excited about the fact that your network will likely overcome the linguistic divides that have affected care research in Europe and North American. Hopefully, your network and University will manage to bring together, on a fairly regular basis,  researchers from all over the world.

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Fiona Robinson

1. Where are you working at this moment?

I just completed a first draft of a chapter for a new edited collection, Care Ethics and Political Theory (2015).  It is edited by Maurice Hamington and Daniel Engster and will be published by Oxford University Press.  My chapter is called ‘Care Ethics and the Future of Feminism’, and it addresses care ethics as a basis for feminist theory and practice in the contemporary context of neoliberalism.  I am excited about the book, as it brings together many wonderful care ethicists, including Joan Tronto, Virginia Held, and Margaret Walker, to name just a few.

I have also recently completed a first draft of a policy paper for the Canadian policy think tank – IRPP, or Institute for Research in Public Policy.  The paper addresses our assumptions about the nature of care, vulnerability and dependency related to the issue of elder care. Finally, I am writing a paper – ultimately destined to be another book chapter – on care ethics and the politics of recognition in the international context.  This is somewhat new territory for me so it is proving to be a challenge.

2. Can you tell us about your research and its relation to the care ethics?

My research addresses the ethics of care in the context of global politics.  Within this broad idea, I have a number of different interests.  My first book (1999) was a preliminary, and largely theoretical, exploration of the relevance of care ethics to global politics or ‘International Relations’.  Since then I have developed this idea in relation to a number of different themes – human rights, labor rights, poverty, global justice and ‘ethical globalization’.  My most recent book (2011) considers ‘care’ as a theoretical and practical basis for building a new approach to human security.  In 2011 I also published another book – a co-edited collection (with Rianne Mahon) — on care ethics and social policy.  This book looks directly at care work in a transnational context and is explicitly aimed at bringing together the ‘ethics’ and ‘policy’ literature on care.

3. How did you get involved in the care ethics?

I have always been interested in questions of moral responsibility across borders.  After my undergraduate degree in Political Studies and English Literature, I did an MA in Development Studies.  Finding this to be too ‘policy-oriented’ I went on to a PhD, where my research focused on ethics and global justice.  I was very dissatisfied with the literature on global justice, most of which I found to be very abstract, individualist, contractualist and apolitical. After reading Carol Gilligan and other works on care ethics, I began to consider the possibilities of this paradigm for transnational or global questions – primarily questions of inequality and poverty.

4. How would you define care ethics?

I would define the ethics of care a moral disposition and set of practices that revolve around an understanding of the self as constituted by relations with others.  Care ethics presents responsibilities and practices of care as the substance of morality and reveals the extent to which the prevalence of women in widely undervalued caring positions is a social construction rather than a ‘natural’ feature of femininity.  Politically, the ethics of care seeks solutions to problems related to the giving and receiving of care that are nonexploitative and equitable.  I see care ethics not primarily as a normative theory, but as a feminist critical theory.  Because it fundamentally challenges the gendered public-private dichotomy, care ethics disrupts and challenges historically-constructed gender norms, roles and power relations.

5. What is the most important thing you learned from the ethics of care?

I have learned that ‘ethics’ can never stand apart from politics.  I have also learned that the ability to listen properly to others and to develop patience are a key part of what it means to ‘act morally’ to and with others.

6. Whom do you consider to be your most important teacher(s) in this area?

I have learned so much from reading the work of Carol Gilligan, Sara Ruddick, Joan Tronto, Virginia Held, Carol Gould and Margaret Urban Walker, among others. Virginia, Joan and Carol have offered me great encouragement and support over the years.  My fellow ‘International Relations’ scholar Kim Hutchings, at the London School of Economics, does wonderful work from which I have learned a great deal.

7. What works in the ethics of care do you see as the most important?

It is difficult to name only a few.  If pressed, I would say Sara Ruddick’s Maternal Thinking, Carol Gilligan’s In a Different Voice, and  Joan Tronto’s Moral Boundaries.

8. Which of your own books/articles should we read?

My first book (1999) – Globalizing Care:  Ethics, Feminist Theory and International Relations – was really the first sustained attempt tot hink about the ethics of care in the context of international or global politics.  So for that reason, I think it is important.

I see my most recent book (2011), The Ethics of Care:  A Feminist Approach to Human Security, as continuing where that book left off.   Because it seeks to apply the ideas of care ethics to important transnational political issues – the environment, HIV/aids, peacebuilding, women’s work in the global political economy – I think that it may be of interest to students and scholars in a wide range of disciplines.

I still recommend to students one of my oldest pieces (1998) – ‘The limits of a rights-based approach to international ethics’ in Tony Evans, ed., Human Rights Fifty Years On.

9. What are important issues for the care ethics in the future?

I am increasingly convinced that there should be sustained attention by care ethicists to the effects of neoliberalism and the increasing financialization of both global politics and our daily lives.

10. In Utrecht our ambition is to promote care ethics nationally and internationally. Do you have any recommendations or wishes?

Your organization and website are wonderful.  It is important to bring together scholars working on different aspects of care ethics.  I think that the next challenge is to introduce the ideas of care ethics to a wider audience – both within academia and beyond.

Image: Robinson at CGEP (2013)
Published originally at (2014)

Eva Feder Kittay

Interview with Eva Feder Kittay, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, at the Department of Philosophyat Stony Brook University, New York. 

1. Where are you working at this moment?

I am at Stony Brook University, where I have been since 1979.

2 Can you tell us about your research and its relation to the ethics of care?

I am working on a number of projects, some are directly on the ethics of care and some are in the area of philosophy and disability—especially cognitive disability—which is also deeply informed by the ethics of care. The work in the ethics of care includes a piece I will be writing on how to think about a politics in which the first virtue is care. Joan Tronto’s latest book promises to be an exercise in just this line of thought. The work of numerous scholars has shown the many ways in which care is relevant to realms outside the domain of the intimate and the domestic. But an ethics of care is an ethic, not a politics. It is still concerned with relations individuals bear to individuals not with the institutional structures and forms that are the concern of politics. How should we think about institutional structures when we consider the first virtue of social organization to be care rather than justice? What sorts of institutions can foster caring relationships? What sorts of institutions are indifferent or even hostile to promoting them?

Answers to these questions require a genuinely normative conception of care. If care is to be a normative conception, we should not be able to speak of such a thing as “too much care” any more than we can speak of “too much justice.” Uses of the term “care” that countenance care as overweaning or paternalistic or merely a “natural disposition” fall outside the normative sense. This is not to say that we never speak about care in such ways, nor that a normative conception cannot build on a moral psychology that includes natural human capacities to respond empathetically to others. But if an ethic of care is to be a true ethic that guides us and helps us evaluate actions are good or morally desirable ones and steers us away from those that are harmful or gratuitously hurtful, and if we are to build institutions that promote the values inherent in a true ethic of care, then we need to sort out the normative sense of care—that is, those that are prescriptive, that tell us what we ought to do to act in a caring way.

Such a notion of care can perhaps best be approached from what Nel Noddings called “the completion of care.” Noddings, along with Tronto spoke of an aspect of care that few others have pursued. Tronto called it the fourth phase of care, the receiving of care, while Noddings spoke of care needing to be completed in the other. This is a profoundly important aspect of care that has been glossed over and that can, I believe help us identify the truly normative sense of care. If care must be received as care by the one cared for, then many things that we sometimes identify with care, such as caring intentions or affect will be insufficient to be care. If care needs to be completed in the other, then actions that are overweaning or paternalistic will not be taken us as something desirable—as something that is really caring—by the cared for. The project to take up the consequences of “the completion of care” is then another project I am engaged with.

And finally, a third project I am continuing to work on is the global care chains, about which I have written several articles. I have just completed a third piece on the topic that I call “The Body as the Place of Care.” I am working with a group on Care and Place and my thinking about migrant carework is being informed by the study of the relationship between Care and Place.

The work on disability that I am now doing is a manuscript tentatively entitled “Disabled Minds and Things That Matter: Lessons Toward a Humbler Philosophy.” In this work I am pulling together the themes that have emerged in my essays as I have confront traditional philosophical thought with the fact of cognitively disabled individuals. My thinking here is grounded in an ethics of care. Questions such as the dignity of people with cognitive impairments, the personhood of people with severe cognitive disability and justice toward the cognitively disabled on the role of care in human social life and in creating us as the relational beings we are ones that I treat using an ethics of care.

In addition I will be doing a paper on disparities of health care resources directed at the disabled. This is a new concern, but it comes out of the work on the efforts of some to reduce the moral status of people with cognitive disabilities and there is a danger that this will result in cut backs to people with these disabilities.

3. How did you get involved in the ethics of care?

I have been interested in feminist philosophy from its inception. I taught my first course in feminist philosophy in 1978 when there were only about five books on the subject, one of which was The Second Sex. I worked in the philosophy of language, and had not studied much ethics in graduate school because I found the sort of ethics being done then, mostly analytic metaethics, not interesting to me. Nonetheless the reason I first got interested in philosophy was because of my interest in ethics.

When Gilligan published “In a Different Voice” I asked my friend Diana Meyers, who worked in ethics, to help me put together a conference in which moral philosophers and feminist philosophers would look at the proposition that there was an ethics of care that philosophers had neglected. The conference issued in what was a ground-breaking collection, Women and Moral Theory. At that point, I was not yet ready to write in the area because I felt I was insufficiently schooled in ethics. But I taught the material regularly and wrote in the area of feminist philosophy. An invitation to give a talk on the “Elusiveness of Equality” plunged me into the literature on equality and I began to see the relevance of the relational approach to ethics that an ethics of care presented.

Equality, I saw, has been elusive to women because women continued to do the work of care even as they entered the workplace, and neither men, nor accommodations in the workplace, eased the traditional work of caregiving for women. Women accepted their caregiving obligations because they had a stronger sense of responsibility to do this work; they had a more abiding ethic of care which they did not give up as they joined the world of men, a world created upon, and without the recognition of, women’s work of care—and most especially care of dependents. Women caring for dependents made women dependent and unable to function and compete on par with the “independent” unencumbered men. In order to understand the dynamics and the place of care and an ethic of care in allowing women to, as Beauvoir writes, “share the world in equality,” I had to think through important conceptions in an ethics of care: the asymmetric relationships, the relational self, the relationship of care and justice, and so forth.

4. How would you define ethics of care?

An ethics of care takes caring relationships as a morally fundamental form of relationship and value. The moral agent is a caring self, who can look past her own immediate needs and desires and takes on the cares of the other as her own. An ethics of care sees the affective connection between people as prior to a calculative reason that binds self-interested person. An ethics of care is fundamentally other-directed, but it is an ethic that understands that our own well-being is never entirely independent of the well-being of the other. An ethics of care understands responsibility to be bound by the connection to and an understanding of the needs and wants of the other. Asymmetrical and partial relations are as morally relevant as symmetrical and impartial ones and the mode of deliberation at once respects both emotional responses as well as rational considerations.

5. What is the most important thing you learned from the ethics of care?

Eva Feder Kittay
Eva Feder Kittay

An ethics of care allowed me to make sense of how my mother could be as good a person as she was given that she failed to personify the rational impartial moral deliberator that I had learned to prize in my readings in philosophy. My father, also a good man, answered to those criteria, but in some ways my mother was generous with herself, and more giving (although her political judgment was often off). Not untill I read Gilligan did I see why there was such a dissonance between the moral conception of the person as I understood it philosophically, and the fact of my mother’s moral character. In addition, an ethics of care has given me another way of seeing how my own disabled daughter fits into the moral universe. I never doubted she did, but the conceptions at hand were not helpful in allowing me to identify her place in any fully articulated philosophical scheme.

6. Whom do you consider to be your most important teacher(s) in this area?

Although there has been wonderful work done in care theory, I keep going back to Gilligan and Sara Ruddick whose initial insights continue to yield fruit.

7. What works in the ethics of care do you see as the most important?

To enumerate a list would inevitably leave out work that is equally important. I don’t like to play the “most important” game.

8. Which of your own books/articles should we read?

Well, Love’s Labor is still a good statement of my fundamental vision. But I have done much else since then. Much of it is also connected to my work on issues of disability. Woman and Moral Theory, although old, is still chock full of good things. I am very proud of The Subject of Care that I coedited with Ellen Feder. Among my articles I would note:

  • Not My Way, Sesha, Your Way, Slowly: ‘Maternal Thinking’ in the Raising of a Child with Profound Intellectual Disabilities.” In Mother Trouble: Legal Theorists, Philosophers and Theologians Reflect on Dilemmas of Parenting. Edited by Julia Hanisberg and Sara Ruddick. New York: Beacon Press, 1999, pp.3-27.
  • “At Home with My Daughter: Reflections on Olmstead v. L. C. and E. W.” In Americans With Disabilities: Exploring Implications of the Law for Individuals and Institutions. Edited by Leslie Francis and Anita Silvers, Rouledge, 2000.
  • “Relationality, Personhood, and Peter Singer on the Fate of Severely Impaired Infants.” APA Newsletter on Philosophy and Medicine, Winter 2000. Reprinted in Pediatric Bioethics, edited by Geoffrey Miller, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2009.
  • “When Care is Just and Justice is Caring: The Case of the Care for the Mentally Retarded” Public Culture, vol. 13, no. 3, Special issue “The Critical Limits of Embodiment: Reflections on Disability Criticism.” September 2001, pp. 557-579. Reprinted in Kittay and Feder, The Subject of Care.
  • “On the Margins of Moral Personhood,” Ethics, October 2006, 100-131. Reprinted in Journal Of Bioethical Inquiry (2008) Volume: 5, Issue: March, Publisher: Springer Netherlands, Pages: 137-156
  • “Equality, Dignity and Disability” in Mary Ann Lyons and Fionnuala Waldron (eds.) (2005) Perspectives on Equality The Second Seamus Heaney Lectures. Dublin: The Liffey Press, pp. 95-122.
  • “Dependency, Difference, and Global Ethic of Longterm Care” (with Bruce Jennings and Angela Wasunna) The Journal of Political Philosophy, vol. 13 (2005), 443-469. Reprinted in Philosophy, Politics & Society, 8th Series (Population & Political Theory), ed. James S Fishkin and Robert E Goodin (Oxford: Blackwell, 2008 or 9). Reprinted in the Taiwanese Journal of Social Welfare, 2006.
  • “Beyond Autonomy and Paternalism,” Denier & T. Vandevelde, editor, Autonomy and Paternalism. Between Independence and Good Intentions, Leuven: Peeters, 2006, pp 1-29.
  • “A Tribute to an Idea: The Completion of Care” in Letters to Nel Noddings: Mother,Teacher, Scholar, Friend. ed. Robert Lake, Teacher’s College Press: New York, 2011.
  • “The Ethics of Care, Dependence and Disability “Getting from Here to There: Claiming Justice for People with Severe Cognitive Disabilities” in Rosamund Rhodes, Margaret Battin P., and Anita Silvers, editors, Medicine and Social Justice: Essays on the Distribution of Health Care, 2nd edition, Oxford University Press: New York (2012), pp. 313-324.
  • “The Moral Harm of Migrant Carework: Realizing a Global Right to Care” Polity volume, Gender & Global Justice. (revised and reprinted from Philosophical Topics, vol. 37, no. 1, Spring 2010, pp. 53-73) forthcoming
  • “Getting from Here to There: Claiming Justice for People with Severe Cognitive Disabilities” in Rosamund Rhodes, Margaret Battin P., and Anita Silvers, editors, Medicine and Social Justice: Essays on the Distribution of Health Care, 2nd edition, Oxford University Press: New York (2012), pp. 313-324.

9. What are important issues for the ethics of care in the future?

A critical question, of course, is how to see an ethics of care as a global ethics and a politics. I also think it is important to understand the place of respect within an ethics of care. As I said, I think that most fundamentally we need to articulate the normative heart of care and to prune away those senses of care that come with its being borne of a practice done by those who are in a subordinate relatively powerless position. I think we need to understand the relationship between care and violence in order to see how the first aspect of our nature can be promoted and the second curbed. And finally, I think we need to connect an ethic of care to the struggles of marginalized, subordinated and endangered others. Understanding the self relationally has a great deal of power to help release us from oppressive conditions and oppressive practices. We need to develop an ethics of care in these directions.

10. It is our ambition to promote ethics of care nationally and internationally. Do you have any recommendations or wishes?

Encourage care ethicists to bring their considerations to bear on questions of disability, sexual minorities, questions of immigration and globalization. Encourage economists to come together with care ethicists to understand the economic structures that keep the work of caring as the responsibility of the disempowered. Encourage politicians to talk about issues of care. Engage in projects that help us to see what the best caring practices are for groups that find current practices unsatisfactory or oppressive.

? Eva Feder Kittay

Tula Brannelly

Interview with Tula Brannelly, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand.

1. Where are you working at this moment?

I currently work at Massey University in Wellington, New Zealand in the School of Nursing. I have been at Massey since I emigrated from the UK in 2006. Previously I worked at the University of Birmingham, as a Research Fellow from 2003 – 2006 and was a PhD student there from 2000 – 2004.

2. Can you tell us about your research and its relation to the ethics of care?

My research is about facilitated participation and how people are enabled to participate in their own care. Broadly I am interested in the experiences of the implementation of health and social policies on marginalized groups, particularly older and younger people with mental health problems. My PhD, Citizenship and Care for People with Dementia, used ethics of care to understand how detention decisions were made with (or without) older people with dementia and their families.

More recently, I have considered drug and alcohol service provision for young people aged 12 – 16 in the same way. My current research, ‘Acts of Citizenship’ asks mental health service users and activists about influences on the outcomes of care, as well as identifying the issues that they think most need to change in practice as part of their change advocacy. Analysis in these projects uses care ethics to consider Tronto’s integrity of care and how that is experienced by people using services.

I have a practice background as a mental health nurse and that prompted my interest in the impact of care practices on people who use services. I once interviewed a nurse who had trained as I had in an asylum, and she recalled her training as a ‘catalogue of human rights abuses’. My research interest was shaped by my firsthand experience of seeing service provision as a lack of care, and equally that there are ample opportunities when care can happen.

3. How did you get involved into the ethics of care?

When I began my PhD research I was thinking about how people with dementia have or do not have rights, but rights based approaches reinforce that people are not able to have rights rather than answer the problems of trying to provide good care. Marian Barnes, who was also at the University of Birmingham at the time, gave me a copy of Joan Tronto’s Moral Boundaries and I instantly recognized the power of care ethics when considering experiences of marginalization.

4. How would you define ethics of care?

Ethics of care surfaces the essential role of care in society, and this includes who does care and who benefits from that care, both paid and unpaid. Ethics of care can be used to examine classed, gendered and racialised aspects of care. Ethics of care also provides a critical framework by which the intentions and realities of care can be assessed. Broadly, it is able to challenge overvalued notions of independence and autonomy and this is long overdue to quell some of the ferocity of neoliberalism.

5. What is the most important thing you learned from the ethics of care?

The most important thing for me about ethics of care is that it provides a coherent and applicable framework for the consideration of ethics in practice. When I first read Moral Boundaries, I wondered why I never knew about ethics of care as a practitioner. So, as well as my research area, I teach ethics of care to experienced practitioners and they instantly ‘get it’ about the usefulness of ethics of care to articulate why and how care needs to occur in practice. Beyond the analysis of care practices, ethics of care begins to demystify how care can possibly be so undervalued.

6. Whom do you consider to be your most important teacher(s) in this area?

Joan Tronto for Moral Boundaries (1993) and I am looking forward to the next edition; Selma Sevenhuijsen for both Trace analysis and her 1998 book Citizenship and the Ethics of Care. Feminist Considerations on Justice, Morality and Politics; and most recently Marian Barnes’ latest book Care in Everyday Life (2012).

7. What works in the ethics of care do you see as the most important?

In addition to those listed above I welcome the plethora of new publishing in the area in the special issues in 2010 and 2011 of the journals Ethics and Social Welfare and Nursing Ethics. It was fabulous to see hem and Pettersen’s work about acute mental health care.

8. Which of your own books/articles should we read?

Many of my publications are about the experiences of people with dementia and their families and more are in development about, for example, how responsiveness may be practiced when working with people with mental health problems. Another area of interest is the commonalities of care ethics and values practiced in Māori centered practice. An edited book is planned from the Critical Care conference in Brighton UK in September 2012 with Marian Barnes, Lizzie Ward and Nicki Ward.

  • Brannelly T, Boulton A and Te Hiini A (2013) A relationship between the ethics of care and Māori worldview – the place of relationality and care in Maori mental health service provision, Ethics and Social Welfare, DOI:10.1080/17496535.2013.764001.
  • Brannelly, T. (2011). Sustaining citizenship: People with dementia and the phenomenon of social death. Nursing Ethics. 18(5), 662-671
  • Brannelly, P. (2011). That others matter: The moral achievement – Care ethics and citizenship in practice with people with dementia. Ethics and Social Welfare 5(2), 210-216
  • Barnes, M., & Brannelly, T. (2008). Achieving care and social justice for people with dementia. Nursing Ethics. 15(3), 384-395
  • Brannelly, PM. (2006). Negotiating ethics in dementia care: An analysis of an ethic of care in practice. Dementia. 5(2), 197-212

9. What are important issues for the ethics of care in the future?

I would like to see more discussion within the group of care ethicists to see how the theory is used and what people think could be added to it, so an inward facing discussion. Also an outwards facing discussion is required to get others on board to demystify the importance of care, interdependence and a critical review of care and who is cared for. One struggle seems to be getting the message across about the political impact of considering democracy and care.

10. Our ambition is to promote ethics of care nationally and internationally. Do you have any recommendations or wishes?

Thanks for the invite to contribute here and for the compilation of the other interviews which are fascinating. The Critical Care conference in September 2012 captured some of the current lively interest and dynamism about care ethics and the hope is to continue that conversation through the Global Care Ethics Network hosted on the website eSocSci. People with an interest in care ethics are invited to contribute to discussions about the development of care ethics and to spread the word about their work. If anyone wants to join the network please email me at eSocSci aims to foster engagement at all levels of social science, and is live from April 12th 2013.