Autonomy and empathy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION. When Carol Gilligan, Nel Noddings, and other ethicists of caring draw the contrast between supposedly masculine and supposedly feminine moral thinking, they put such things as justice, autonomy, and rights together under the first rubric and such things as caring, responsibility for others, and connection together under the second. This division naturally leaves caring ethicists with the issue of how to deal with topics such as justice, autonomy, and rights, but it also leaves defenders of more traditional moral theories (now dubbed “masculine”) with the problem of how to treat (if at all) the sorts of issues that ethicists of caring raise. One response, among caring ethicists and others, has been to acknowledge the two types of moral thinking (however imperfectly correlated with sex or gender) while claiming that each is one-sided and needs to be complemented or supplemented with the other if we are to achieve an adequate understanding of morality, of the full range of moral phenomena. This says, in effect, that previous “masculine” moral philosophies have skimped on (the importance of) the sorts of affective bonds on which caring ethics focuses. This response also suggests that caring and human connection need to be situated within just social institutions whose character is not determined by caring, but, rather, by the less personal and more general principles and concepts of traditional moral/political philosophy and its descendants. However, some caring ethicists have proceeded more boldly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMorality and Politics
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9780511573019, 0521542219, 9780521542210
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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