Ricoeur and the ethics of care

Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 17 (4):485-491 (2014)
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Abstract

This introduction to the special issue on ‘Ricoeur and the ethics of care’ is not a standard editorial. It provides not only an explanation of the central questions and a first impression of the articles, but also a critical discussion of them by an expert in the field of care ethics, Joan Tronto. After explaining the reasons to bring Ricoeur into dialogue with the ethics of care, and analyzing how the four articles of this special issue shape this dialogue, the authors give the floor to Tronto. She focuses on the central issue at stake: what may be the value of a more abstract, conceptual approach for the ethics of care as a radically practice-oriented way of thinking? She argues that the four contributions too easily frame this value in terms of Ricoeur’s relational anthropology. Instead she points out that if the ethics of care is a kind of practice, it makes sense to think of such practices as necessarily building upon one another, expanding constantly the context and relationships upon which practices are built. In the final section the authors respond to Tronto’s framing of ‘practices all the way up’ by arguing that this approach need not be at odds with one inspired by Ricoeur’s conceptual thinking. Rather the two can be seen as different movements—upwards and downwards—that both contribute constructively to the shaping of the important intermediary zone between the practices and the abstract ideals.

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