Practice Theories Conference 2014

On September 24th and 25th 2014 the Graduate School of the University of Humanistic Studies, Utrecht, the Netherlands presented a two-day conference on Practice Theories entitled ‘An Inquiry into theories of practice: Rethinking actors, materiality and organisations’.

During this conference central issues raised by practice theories were explored and discussed. The conference was a joint effort to reflect on our own practices as researchers in order to develop a stronger methodological awareness about knowledge creation as social practice.

Practice theories conceive actions of people as part of a practice, a larger set of activities. This means, for instance, that organisations are not regarded as entities but as an assembly of practices. In interaction, people ‘carry’ different practices. Practice theory gives us an alternative view on practitioners as well.
Not only people, but also material ‘objects’ are interacting, and therefore not ‘just objects’. Knowledge emerges from within interactive practices and theories of practice concentrate on the ethos of these practices. Practice theories offer another view on the social, valuing differences.

Key note speakers

Two leading key note speakers, prof. Davide Nicolini (University of Warwick, GB) and prof. Robert Schmidt (Eichstatt University, Germany), presented their thoughts and views on Practice Theories.

Prof. Dr. Davide Nicolini from the University of Warwick, GB. He discussed practice theories in
plural and the idea that practice theory is not a (new) school. The ‘family resemblances’ in the theories of practice however do offer explanatory power that other approaches were not able to offer.

Prof. Robert Schmidt from Eichstatt University, Germany. He explained what praxeology is about, drawing on Bourdieu and taking praxeology as a research strategy. Praxeology is a game changer with regard to several ethical and sociological approaches.

Both share a vivid interest with researchers at the University of Humanistic Studies in complex organisations, and thorough qualitative and conceptual research.

All lectures from the conference ‘An Inquiry into theories of practice: Rethinking actors, materiality and organisations’, organised by the Graduate School of the University of Humanistic Studies, Utrecht, the Netherlands on September 24th and 25th 2014, are available on the next page.

Short Interviews

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 Zorgethiek.nu (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 p.m.brannelly@massey.ac.nz eSocSci aims to foster engagement at all levels of social science, and is live from April 12th 2013.

Maurice Hamington

Interview with prof.dr. Maurice Hamington.

1. Where are you working at this moment?

I work at Metropolitan State University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, USA. My title is Associate Vice President of Academic Centers and Programs and I am a Professor of Philosophy and Women’s Studies.

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

My work with care has taken on three directions:

  1. Exploring the embodied nature of caring.
  2. Framing care as a performative endeavor.
  3. Applied aspects of care.

In Embodied Care (University of Illinois Press, 2004), I argued that human bodies facilitate caring and that our bodies contain prenoetic caring knowledge.  My most recent work, which builds on the notion of embodied care, frames care as performative and thus views care as more than an ethical theory but an ontological and epistemological theory as well.  Finally, an ongoing stream of my work has been to apply care theory to social and political policies and practices as in the anthologies, Socializing Care (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), Feminism and Hospitality (Lexington Books, 2010), and Applying Care to Business Ethics (Springer, 2011)

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

I was first exposed to the theories during the course of study leading to my first Ph.D. in Religion and Social Ethics (University of Southern California, 1994) and then the focus of my second Ph.D. in Philosophy was developing the notion of embodied care.  If find care theory a compelling way to understand identity, knowledge creation, as well as morality.

4. How would you define ethics of care?

I prefer to think of “care theory” rather than the ethics of care.  The reason is that I find care does a different kind of work than other forms of ethics.  Rather than simply answering the question, “what is the right thing to do?”, care addresses what I know and who I am as well as how to act toward one another.  I view care as possessing elements of postmodernism in that it defies neat categories of understanding.

Care is fundamentally, an embodied, performative, and imaginative endeavor that has significant implications for what we know, who we are, and the nature of the good.

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

Ethics is more than rules, rights, or consequences.  We cannot address issues of morality without integrating issues of identity and epistemology as well.

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

Nel Noddings

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

  • Dalmiya, Vrinda, “Why Should Knowers Care?” Hypatia vol. 17, no. 1 (Winter 2002)
  • Noddings, Nel, The Maternal Factor: Two Paths to Morality (University of California Press, 2010).
  • Verducci, Susan, “A Moral Method? Thoughts on Cultivating Empathy Through Method Acting” Journal of Moral Education 29:1 2000.

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

Books

  • Hamington, Maurice and Maureen Sander-Staudt, Eds., Applying Care Ethics to Business, Issues in Business Ethics Series, Springer, September 2011.
  • Hamington, Maurice, Ed., Feminism and Hospitality: Gender in the Host/Guest Relationship, Lexington Books (a Division of Rowman & Littlefield), August 2010.
  • Hamington, Maurice, and Dorothy C. Miller, Eds., Socializing Care: Feminist Ethics and Public Issues, Rowman and Littlefield, January 2006.
  • Hamington, Maurice, Embodied Care: Jane Addams, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Feminist Ethics, University of Illinois Press, September 2004.

Articles

  • Hamington, Maurice, “Caring, Journalism, and the Power of Particularism,” Expositions: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities, Fall 2011.
  • Hamington, Maurice, “Care Ethics and Corporeal Inquiry in Patient Relations,” International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics 5:1 (Spring 2012): 52-69.
  • Hamington, Maurice, “Liberté, Égalité, Sororité: How Care Ethics Informs Social Justice,” Social Philosophy Today, 26:1, 2011.
  • Hamington, Maurice, “Care Ethics, John Dewey’s ‘Dramatic Rehearsal’ and Moral Education,” Philosophy of Education Yearbook 2010.  Spring 2011.
  • Hamington, Maurice, “The Will to Care: Performance, Expectation, and Imagination,” Hypatia, 25:3, Summer 2010.
  • Hamington, Maurice, “Toward a Theory of Feminist Hospitality,” Feminist Formations (formerly National Women’s Studies Association Journal), 22:1, April 2010.
  • Hamington, Maurice, “Business is Not a Game: The Metaphoric Fallacy,” Journal of Business Ethics, 86:4, 2009.
  • Hamington, Maurice, “Learning Ethics from Our Relationships with Animals: Moral Imagination,” International Journal of Applied Ethics, 22:2, Fall 2008.
  • Hamington, Maurice, “Care Ethics and International Justice: The Cosmopolitanism of Jane Addams and Kwame Anthony Appiah,” Social Philosophy Today, 23, 2008.
  • Hamington, Maurice, “Touching the Other in Myself: Merleau-Ponty, Tactility, and Care Ethics,” Review Journal of Political Philosophy, 4:1, 2006.
  • Hamington, Maurice, “Jane Addams and the Politics of Embodied Care,” Journal of Speculative Philosophy, 15:2, Fall 2001.

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

Care theory needs to be more than an academic pursuit.  It is gaining popularity but only among some academics.  Care needs to be a social and political value that helps repair our world.  Traditional Western approaches to ethics are inadequate to address the challenges of our diverse social existence.

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

I wish to be supportive. Your mission is much needed and I would like to see it be successful.

Carol Gilligan

1. Where are you working at this moment?

I am a University Professor at New York University, teaching in the School of Law, the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. (Carol Gilligan on Wikipedia)

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

My research on identity and moral development led me to identify the ethics of care as a “different voice”—a voice that joined self with relationship and reason with emotion. By transcending these binaries it shifted the paradigm of psychological and moral theory. The ethics of care starts from the premise that as humans we are inherently relational, responsive beings and the human condition is one of connectedness or interdependence.

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

I came to write about an ethics of care after listening to the ways in which people speak about experiences of moral conflict and choice that they face. My research focused on actual rather than hypothetical situations of moral conflict and choice and explored how people construct moral conflicts and choices, what they see as the moral problem or question, and how moral language comes into play in shaping the choices they consider and the actions they take. I was impelled to write about an ethics of care by the disparities I heard between the voice of moral theories and the voices of people on the ground.

4. How would you define ethics of care?

As an ethic grounded in voice and relationships, in the importance of everyone having a voice, being listened to carefully (in their own right and on their own terms) and heard with respect. An ethics of care directs our attention to the need for responsiveness in relationships (paying attention, listening, responding) and to the costs of losing connection with oneself or with others. Its logic is inductive, contextual, psychological, rather than deductive or mathematical.

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

That morality is grounded in a psychological logic, reflecting the ways in which we experience ourselves in relation to others and that the origins of morality lie in human relationships as they give rise to concerns about injustice and carelessness. Studying development, I realized that concerns about oppression and concerns about abandonment are built into the human life cycle, given the differential power between children and adults and the fact that care is essential for human survival. An ethics of care speaks to these concerns.

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

The people who participated in my research along with great artists—playwrights, novelists and poets—who have enhanced our understanding of the human condition across cultures and time. In developing my thinking about the ethics of care, I also learned from the writings of moral philosophers, including Hannah Arendt, Simone Weil, Iris Murdoch, Suzanne Langer, Martha Nussbaum, Stanley Cavell and David Hume.

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

Currently, the writings of Michael Slote, and the work being done in Paris by the moral philosopher Sandra Laugier and the sociologist, Patricia Paperman.

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

Joining the Resistance (2011), especially the first and last chapters, and also In a Different Voice (1982) and The Birth of Pleasure (2002).

For the alignment of care ethics with democracy and with resistance to patriarchy, I would also recommend my 2009 book with David A. J. Richards (my NYU colleagues and a constitutional law scholar and moral philosopher): The Deepening DarknessPatriarchy, Resistance, and Democracy’s Future (Cambridge University Press).

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

To address the question of why the ethics of care is still embattled (especially in the U.S.) but also now in Europe), to consider the ethics of care in light of new evidence in the human sciences that as humans we are by nature empathic and responsive beings, hard-wired for cooperation. Rather than asking how do we gain the capacity to care, the questions become how do we come not to care; how do we lose the capacity for empathy and mutual understanding? It is also crucial to clarify that within a patriarchal framework, the ethics of care is a “feminine” ethic, whereas within a democratic framework it is a human ethic, grounded in core democratic values: the importance of everyone having a voice and being listened to carefully and heard with respect. The premise of equal voice then allows conflicts to be addressed in relationships. Different voices then become integral to the vitality of a democratic society.

A feminist ethic of care is an ethic of resistance to the injustices inherent in patriarchy (the association of care and caring with women rather than with humans, the feminization of care work, the rendering of care as subsidiary to justice—a matter of special obligations or interpersonal relationships). A feminist ethic of care guides the historic struggle to free democracy from patriarchy; it is the ethic of a democratic society, it transcends the gender binaries and hierarchies that structure patriarchal institutions and cultures. An ethics of care is key to human survival and also to the realization of a global society.

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

Only that your efforts may flourish.

Per Nortvedt

1. Where are you working at this moment?

I am working at The Center for Medical Ethics, Institute of Health and Society, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway.

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

I am conducting research into the foundation of care ethics, in particular questions concerning the role of emotions and moral sensitivity in moral judgments. Also I am engaged in metaphsyical questions concerning the basic motivations for care, particularly inspired by the ethics of Emmanuell Levinas. I call this ethics, an ethics of proximity: The Principle and Problem of Proximity in Ethics. (Journal of Medical Ethics 2008 (34).)

My works also pertains to the role of care and partiality in clinical health care priorities. The idea is that from the perspective an ethics of care there seems to follow a certain normative requirement to be partial. This role of partiality versus impartiality in ethics even though being heavily debated in moral philosophy has been scarcely addressed by care theorists, with some exceptions (Virginia Held, Joan Tronto, e.g). My idea is that an ethics of care, as well as an ethics of proximity can influence this debate in a constructive way.

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

As a nurse and in my PhDwork I was always interested in the role of moral sensitivity and empathy. During my PhD work I became increasingly interested in trying to establish a more solid normative basis for the role of emotions and empathy in moral judgments. Also my nursing background and research into how the historical tradition of nursing emphasised the phenomenology of illness and understanding the subjective experiences of the patient, greatly fueled my interest in an ethics of care and research into the foundations of care.

4. How would you define ethics of care?

The crucial focus of an ethics of care is on the importance of interpersonal relationships and the role of these relationships in moral judgments. An ethics of care takes place within interpersonal relationships to be of particular moral relevance to moral life and for moral judgments. In this respect two keywords of this ethics are: partiality – to give some particular attention to persons with whom one is interpersonally connected; and proximity – that personal closeness both relationally and in its spatio-temporality are morally significant.

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

That not only moral principles and moral judgment is what is central to morality and ethics. Also the role of moral sensitivity and moral motivation in which ones attitudes plays an important role is ethically and morally significant

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

The one I have been the most inspired by, even though he does not consider himself a care ethicist, is the american philosopher Lawrence Blum with his work on care and particularity in the 1980’s and the 90’s. Also the work of the norwegian philosopher Arne Johan Vetlesen and his work on empathy and moral performance have been of great influence to my own position.

Additionally, neither of them being care ethicist, but the philosophy of Emmanuell Levinas, the Norwegian phenomenologist and nurse philosopher Kari Martinsen and the American philosopher Samuel Scheffler with his work on associative duties and personal relationships has been a great inspiration in my career. Among leading care ethicists, I think the work of Joan Tronto, Virginia Held and the norwegian Tove Pettersen, in my view represent very solid work on care theory today.

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

Of course the seminal work of Carol Gilligan, but also the works mentioned by Tronto, Held and Tove Pettersen. Of special relevance for care ethics is Lawrence Blum, Moral Perception and Particularity, Cambridge UP 1994, and his Altruism, emotions and morality, Routledge, 1980. And Arne Johan Vetlesen, Perception, Empathy and Judgment, Penn State Press 1994.

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

My works that are most relevant and that I am most satisfied with is my PhD dissertation,: Sensitive Judgment Tano press Oslo 1996.

  • Care, Sensitivity and “the Moral Point of View”.. I: New Pathways for European Bioethics. Intersentia 2007 ISBN 978-90-5095-670-3. p. 81-99
  • Levinas, Justice and Health Care. Medicine, Health care and Philosophy 2003; Volume 6. s. 25-34.
  • Sensibility and Clinical Understanding. Medicine, Health care and Philosophy 2008; Volume11. s. 209-219
  • Subjectivity and Vulnerability; Reflections on the Foundation of Ethical Sensibility. Nursing Philosophy 2003; Volume 4.(5) s. 222-231
  • The Principle and Problem of Proximity in Ethics. Journal of Medical Ethics 2008 (34) s. 156-161
  • Most recent work: The ethics of care. Role Obligations and Moderate Partiality in Health Care. Nursing Ethics2011; Volume 18.(2) s. 192-200. Hem and Skirbekk co-authors
  • The Normativity of Clinical Health Care – Perspectives on Moral Realism. Forthcoming in the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy.

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

I think to clarify its normative potential and its distinctivess with relation to other theories like virtue ethics and consequentialist ethics. To accomplish this, it is increasingly important to set care ethics in play with the dominant perspectives and discussions within moral theory and philosophy. To mention some perspectives: Moral phenomenology, and metaphysics; Levinas, Husserl, Loegstrup. Analytical philosophy: Bernard Williams, Thomas Nagel, Samuel Scheffler, Christine Korsgaard. Moral realists and quasi-realists like Arne Johan Vetlesen, David Wiggins, consequentialists like Peter Singer, Peter Unger.

It is not satifying that an ethics of care can argue for the importance of relationships to moral life and judgments without in more detail discussing the normative implications of a relational view in ethics and morality.

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

I would very much like to be in more contact with you and would love to visit you, and perhaps have some joint seminars and projects.

Chris Gastmans

1. Where are you working at this moment?

I am working as full professor of medical ethics at the Centre for Biomedical Ethics and Law (CBMER) of the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. The Centre was created in 1986 (we celebrate the Centre’s 25th anniversary this year) at the medical faculty of our university. The Centre’s staff consists of moral theologians and philosophers, lawyers, nurses and psychologists. At the CBMER philosophical-ethical, empirical-ethical and legal research lines have been developed for reproductive medicine, genetics, biobanks, tissue transplantation, patient rights, end-of-life care and elderly care. We provide courses in medical ethics, healthcare ethics, nursing ethics, and medical law at all faculties of our university. These educational efforts have been translated in an Erasmus Mundus Master in Bioethics.

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

I am in charge of the research lines ‘elderly care ethics’ and ‘end-of-life care ethics’. These two major research lines contain research projects on nurses’ involvement in end-of-life care processes (e.g. euthanasia, withholding/withdrawing artificial food and fluid administration), ethical decision-making regarding physical restraints, intimacy and sexuality in institutionalized elderly, institutional ethics policies on euthanasia, etc. As you can see, all these topics are more or less closely linked to daily care practices. From the beginning of my research activities, I considered care ethics as a promising and innovative ethical perspective from which these care practices can be analyzed. However, as I am convinced that care ethics should go into dialogue with more fundamental theological and philosophical ethical theories, I also consider the personalist approach on ethics as an important source of my ethical thinking. Besides this philosophical-ethical approach to care ethics research, I also conduct empirical ethical studies that help me to understand the essential characteristics of ethically sensitive daily care processes.

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

I started my academic work in 1990 at the Centre for Biomedical Ethics and Law in Leuven. I got a doctoral degree in theology in 1995 with a critical study of the historical, anthropological, and moral theological foundations of nursing ethics, conceptualized as an ethics of care. Since 1998, I teach nursing ethics at the nursing department of the medical faculty, medical ethics at the faculty of theology and ethics of care at the faculty of philosophy. Recently, we initiated the international intensive course nursing ethics that will take place on December 7-9 2011 in Leuven. So it is clear that I was involved in the ethics of care from the very beginning of my academic career, both from a research and an educational perspective.

4. How would you define ethics of care?

Ethics of care stands for a unique normative perspective from which human behavior can be interpreted and evaluated. In order to have normative power, that is, to be able to distinguish between good and bad behavior, care ethics needs an explicit anthropological basis – a view of mankind that underlies care. This explicit anthropological basis helps us to clarify concepts closely related to care ethics such as vulnerability, interdependence, care, responsibility, relational autonomy, dignity, personhood. Only when the normative anthropological basis of care is sufficiently clarified care practices can be evaluated and optimized from an ethical point of view. I consider this as the main task of care ethicists.

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

The ethics of care provides many ideas that have deepen my insight into the essential characteristics of ethical problems, for instance the central role of vulnerability in human life. But the most important thing I learned from the ethics of care is the emphasis on the contextual embeddedness of ethically sensitive care practices. The role of context in care practices and its impact on the ethical quality of care practices can easily be made visible by empirical research using a qualitative design. For instance, the ethical reasoning of nurses when they are involved in care practices concerning the use of physical restraint in elderly care, is strongly influenced by contextual factors such as workload, time (day-night), architectural characteristics of the ward, communication culture among nurses and physicians. This also shows that the ethical quality of care practices can be improved by considering their contextual embeddedness.

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

When I was writing my PhD dissertation, I was strongly influenced by the writings of Lawrence Blum. His books ‘Friendship, Altruism and Morality’ (1980) and ‘Moral Perception and Particularity’ (1994) were very useful to clarify for instance the distinction between the virtue of care and emotional involvement. Regarding the personalist approach in ethics, I consider the Leuven moral theologian Louis Janssens as my most important teacher.

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

I would recommend the above mentioned books written by Lawrence Blum. But of course, my students are strongly motivated to read the well-known ‘Moral Boundaries’ of Joan Tronto. This book introduced really innovative perspectives in the ethics of care debate.

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

I would recommend ‘Nursing Considered as Moral Practice: A Philosophical-Ethical Interpretation of Nursing’, published in the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, given that in this article, the main sources of my ethical thinking are brought into dialogue: nursing practice, care ethics, and personalism.

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

Most criticism towards the ethics of care concerns normativity (see for instance the thematic issue on care ethics in Nursing Ethics 2011 (2)). Hence, I think much more research should be done in order to strengthen the normative foundation of the care ethics approach. Therefore, it might be helpful to enrich care ethics by going into dialogue with the work of important philosophers as Emmanual Levinas, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Martin Buber and Paul Ricoeur. These philosophers could help us to deepen the normative value of care by referring to its anthropological foundations (e.g. embodiment, intersubjectivity).

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

I appreciate the valuable work done by the colleagues. Different from our Centre in Leuven that is located at the medical faculty, the Tilburg care ethicists have very close links with theology and philosophy. I would support the efforts of the care ethicists to provide a sound philosophical and theological foundation for the ethics of care.

Michael Slote

Michael Slote is UST Professor of Ethics at the University of Miami and is author of  “The Ethics of Care and Empathy” and “Moral Sentimentalism”. He was previously professor of philosophy at the University of Maryland, and at Trinity College Dublin.

He is widely recognized as a leading figure in the recently renewed field of virtue ethics. He argues that virtue ethics, in a particular form which draws on the concept of an ethics of care, offers significant intuitive and structural advantages over deontology, utilitarianism, and common-sense morality. He has also recently endorsed the meta-ethical view of moral sentimentalism in opposition to moral rationalism. ((Wikipedia))

1. What are you working on at this moment?

I am working on the importance of receptivity both as a corrective to the Western philosophical tendency to overemphasize rational control in human life and as an entry point to understanding how Chinese ethical thought can be useful to present-day Western philosophizing.

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

Care is arguably based in empathy, but both require a certain degree of receptivity, and I think care ethics needs to be more explicitly aware of this. Proper attention to the importance of receptivity will not only favor care ethics over moral rationalism, but (as suggested above) indicate other areas of human life and thought that have largely been misunderstood or distorted by traditional Western philosophy.

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

I was pushing virtue ethics in a sentimentalist vein, and care ethics is the contemporary ethical philosophy that comes closest to such a virtue ethics. I later saw, or thought I saw, that there is no reason for the sentimentalist virtue ethicist not to be or become a care ethicist.

4. How would you define ethics of care?

Well, there are lots of different views that nowadays go under the name of care ethics, and that is the mark of a mature or maturing school or approach. What they seem to have in common is the idea that caring should be philosophically foregrounded relative to other ethical virtues and desirable relationships. But how best to do this is, of course, a matter of some dispute.

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

Well, it has pointed me toward a larger critique of traditional (and patriarchal) Western values.

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

Nel Noddings and Carol Gilligan

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

The early work of those two authors stands out. But there is much recent work on care ethics that carries things forward. Perhaps I shouldn’t get into specifics.

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

Well, the two books The Ethics of Care and Empathy and Moral Sentimentalism would be good.

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

I think care ethics has to pay more attention to traditional philosophical issues, though of course it will want to treat them in its own distinctive way. And we need to consider how the skills and intellectual virtues that inform or are supposed to inform care ethics can be made available and shown to be important to ethical practitioners who resist or reject care ethics.

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

If you wish to involve me in your ongoing activities, I’d be interested. I’m not sure a journal solely devoted to care ethics is a good idea, but your website can play a significant role, surely.

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