The vocation of motherhood: Husserl and feminist ethics [Book Review]

Continental Philosophy Review 43 (1):127-140 (2010)
In this paper, I explore a confrontation between Husserl’s ethical position of vocation and its absolute ought with a feminist ethical position. I argue that Husserl’s ethics has a great deal to offer a feminist ethics by providing for the possibility of an ethics that is particular rather than universal, that recognizes the role of the social through tradition in establishing values and norms without conceding the ethical responsibility of the individual, and that acknowledges the role of both reason and desire in establishing moral values that has the consequence of breaking down the public/private distinction that has reigned in so many ethical theories. In order to make this case, I proceed with a review of Husserl’s position of the absolute ought, some typical criticisms that might be leveled at his position, and finally, responses to those criticisms that show ways in which Husserl’s position can be beneficial to the formulation of a feminist ethics that is inclusive of the emotional aspect of moral valuation, and the particularity of ethical commitments, while providing for a different way of evaluating thinking that accommodates what are usually understood to be “feminine” concerns. In addition to describing Husserl’s position, I show how that position meets some of the expectations for a feminist ethics as put forth by Iris Marion Young and Sara Ruddick.
Keywords Motherhood  Ethics  Husserl  Vocation  Absolute ought  Iris Young  Feminist ethics
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DOI 10.1007/s11007-010-9129-6
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Ulrich Melle (1991). The Development of Husserl's Ethics. Études Phénoménologiques 7 (13-14):115-135.

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