Commitment and Partialism in the Ethics of Care

Hypatia 32 (4):817-832 (2017)
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It is plausible to think that practices of caring are partly constituted by a caregiver's commitment to a cared-for. However, discussions of caring often contain no explicit discussion of such commitments, and do not attempt to draw any philosophical conclusions from the nature of caring relations as committed. A discussion of caring practices that emphasizes the importance of commitment therefore has the potential to generate important new insights for our understanding of caring. This essay begins that project by arguing that a commitment-centric conception of caring entails the truth of moral partialism. Although many care-ethicists are sympathetic to partialism, the arguments in its defense remain controversial. As I show in this article, however, partialism is necessarily true given the committed nature of caring. This is because the concept of commitment is itself a necessarily partial one: to say that we are equally committed to everyone or everything is equivalent to saying that we are not committed to anything. Thus, when viewed as a species of commitment, it is part of the concept of caring that it requires us to put the needs of those we care for before the needs of those unknown to us.



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Citations of this work

Values in Good Caring Relations.Thomas E. Randall - 2018 - Feminist Philosophy Quarterly 4 (3).
Care, Commitment and Moral Distress.Joseph P. Walsh - 2018 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (3):615-628.
Towards an Aristotelian Theory of Care.Steven Steyl - 2019 - Dissertation, University of Notre Dame Australia
A Care Ethical Justification for an Interest Theory of Human Rights.Thomas E. Randall - 2023 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 26 (4):554-578.

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Famine, affluence, and morality.Peter Singer - 1972 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (3):229-243.
The schizophrenia of modern ethical theories.Michael Stocker - 1976 - Journal of Philosophy 73 (14):453-466.
The Ethics of Care. Personal, Political, and Global.Virginia Held - 2007 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 69 (2):399-399.
Justice as Impartiality.Brian Barry - 1995 - Philosophy 70 (274):603-605.

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