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The Ethics of Care

The Ethics of Care: A Feminist Approach to Human Security

Fiona Robinson
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    The Ethics of Care
    Book Description:

    InThe Ethics of Care, Fiona Robinson demonstrates how the responsibilities of sustaining life are central to the struggle for basic human security. She takes a unique approach, using a feminist lens to challenge gender biases in rights-based, individualist approaches.Robinson's thorough and impassioned consideration of care in both ethical and practical terms provides a starting point for understanding and addressing the material, emotional and psychological conditions that create insecurity for people.The Ethics of Careexamines "care ethics" and "security" at the theoretical level and explores the practical implications of care relations for security in a variety of contexts: women's labor in the global economy, humanitarian intervention and peace building, healthcare, and childcare.

    Theoretically-innovative and policy-relevant, this critical analysis demonstrates the need to understand the obstacles and inequalities that obstruct the equitable and adequate delivery of care around the world.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0067-3
    Subjects: Philosophy, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    It is likely that most people consider “care” to be important—even fundamental—to their daily lives. Most families rely on relations of care—parents care for children, and often those same parents care for their own elderly parents. Family members care for one another when they are ill; for many who are fortunate, those illnesses are acute and not severe. For countless others, illness or disability is a day-to-day, relentless reality in which care must be constant and comprehensive.

    Most people would also recognize the importance of care outside and beyond the nuclear and extended families. In most nation-states,...

  5. 1 The Ethics of Care and Global Politics
    (pp. 21-40)

    While the concept of care still remains on the margins of academic analyses of social, moral, and political life, the past two decades have witnessed a remarkable growth in this field of study. Research from moral and political philosophy into the ethics of care continues to develop, and while recent books employ a diversity of approaches, they all contribute to consolidating its place as a serious and important alternative to dominant Kantian and rights-based ethics (Held 2006; Engster 2007; Slote 2007). In addition, there has been a recent proliferation of analyses of the role and nature of care work in...

  6. 2 Rethinking Human Security
    (pp. 41-62)

    This book is not primarily a work of “security studies”; it is centrally concerned with the ways in which our normative and ontological understandings of security serve to reinforce, rather than challenge, existing relations of power, thus perpetuating and even deepening conditions of insecurity for much of the world’s population. It also seeks to rethink security by examining it through the lens of a critical feminist ethics of care. In this sense, the analysis here may have links with certain branches of “critical security studies”; however, important differences should also be noted. This chapter situates my arguments regarding care and...

  7. 3 “Women’s Work”: The Global Care and Sex Economies
    (pp. 63-84)

    This chapter explores the human security dimensions of “Women’s Work” in the global economy through the lens of a critical feminist ethics of care. By “Women’s Work” I mean care work (including child care and care for the sick and elderly); household maintenance labor (including cleaning and food preparation); and “intimate” labor (including prostitution, other forms of sex work, and “mail-order brides”). Currently, millions of women from income-poor, peripheral states migrate to more affluent countries to do the work that is “associated with a wife’s traditional role—child care, homemaking and sex” (Ehrenreich and Hochschild 2002: 4). This situation is...

  8. 4 Humanitarian Intervention and Global Security Governance
    (pp. 85-102)

    While most of the literature on global governance addresses the rules, norms, and institutions of global economic governance—including trade and finance—a growing body of work explores security and intervention from a governance perspective (see Griffen 2000). What this means is that the interplay of purposive activities and strategies of state and nonstate actors, formal and informal rules and discursive practices, and wider material and ideational structures surrounding security and intervention are recognized as exercising significant forms of authority over communities of people around the world today.

    For analytical purposes, recent history with respect to global security may be...

  9. 5 Peacebuilding and Paternalism: Reading Care through Postcolonialism
    (pp. 103-122)

    This chapter considers the implications of a feminist ethics of care in the context of peacekeeping and peacebuilding. Three aspects of care ethics are of particular relevance to peacebuilding. First is the recognition and acceptance of dependence and vulnerability in a variety of social contexts, and the specific moral and political responsibilities that flow from this. Violent conflict usually leaves at least some social groupings and their members hurt, broken, and vulnerable. There is a need to accept and understand these vulnerabilities and pay attention to the care needs arising from them. The second aspect, the ontological focus of care...

  10. 6 Health and Human Security: Gender, Care, and HIV/AIDS
    (pp. 123-142)

    This chapter considers HIV/AIDS in the context of human security by using the lens of the feminist ethics of care. The ethics of care refers to a moral framework characterized by an ontological commitment to relationality and care as the basis of human well-being. This leads to the weak normative position that enhancing and supporting equitable and adequate relations of care at all levels of human interaction are key to mitigating insecurity in many sectors of life. An examination of the global HIV/AIDS pandemic using this lens—with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa—reveals largely hidden aspects of human insecurity...

  11. 7 Gender, Care, and the Ethics of Environmental Security
    (pp. 143-160)

    From the earliest attempts at rethinking the concept of “security”—in both the academic community and at the United Nations—“the environment” has occupied a central position in these revised and expanded understandings. The defining UNDPHuman Development Reportof 1994 articulated seven dimensions of human security, one of which was environmental security. Since that time, academics have begun interrogating the security dimensions of environmental change; much of this literature has either integrated the environment into a broad concept of human security or placed environmental security as a pillar alongside human, societal, and gender security (J. Barnett 2001; Oswald Spring...

  12. Conclusion: Security through Care
    (pp. 161-166)

    In this book, I have illustrated the extent to which relations and practices of care are central to the struggle for basic human security. I have argued that the relational perspective of feminist care ethics can provide a critical lens through which to view human social arrangements and their effects on human security. Central to the ethics of care is the belief that relations and practices of care and responsibility are the basic substance of morality and that these relations and practices are a central feature of all human social life. The feminist orientation of care ethics, however, demands a...

  13. References
    (pp. 167-180)
  14. Index
    (pp. 181-188)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 189-189)