David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Philosophy of Education 42 (2):233-248 (2008)
According to care theory the good parent confronting a helpless child has an unmediated impulse to relieve his distress; that impulse grows into a prescriptive ethic of relatedness, often contrasted to the more individualistic ethic of justice. If, however, a child's nature is understood as assertive and competent as well as fragile and dependent; if, in addition, he acquires needs through socialisation and is the beneficiary of inferred needs determined by others, then an ethic of need-gratification is insufficient. Caring theory, with its emphasis on empathy, compassion, and attentiveness to the child's present state undervalues the role of adult restraint and imposition in a rounded caring philosophy. Parents (and teachers) must continuously balance gratification with suppression, support with restraint, engrossment with detachment. From this process emerges a revised relational ethic in which the care/justice distinctions are collapsed.
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