Ethics [part ed: George Matthews]

  • @Eric-M. Thanks for your interest in the project! For chapter authors we are looking for people who have formal training in philosophy: either a PhD in philosophy or someone in a PhD graduate program in philosophy, and ideally with teaching experience as well. This helps with promoting the adoption of the book for courses–for better or worse, some will be concerned about quality if things are written by those without formal training.

    That said, if you would like to provide comments in your area of interest, that is certainly fine! We’re just going to stick to those with formal training for chapter authoring.

  • Hi everyone. I’m writing to introduce myself here! I’m a feminist philosopher and ethicist, just finishing my PhD at the University of Birmingham (UK), and soon to be joining the philosophy department at Lancaster University on contract.

    I’ve been reading the conversation here, and I have some thoughts about what’s been suggested for the feminist ethics bit. I am inclined to suggest that the section focus on feminist work around the concepts of autonomy (the revision from Kantian/Rawlsian notions to relational autonomy) and the agency dilemma, rather than on care ethics. Feminist work in autonomy and agency may be the biggest area of philosophical impact. I admit that I’m not a fan of care ethics, b/c I’m sympathetic to the objection that it is essentialising in a way that serves to buttress gender stereotypes. That said, it could be that you want to include it and just present some really convincing objections to it.

    I have added my name to this section on the spreadsheet, but reading the description, I would welcome a collaborator. I am comfortable with feminist ethics/Foucauldian thought, but less so with cog sci and evolutionary views of ethics.

  • Greetings. Sorry for not joining this forum earlier, I have been travelling to and participating in conferences this and next week. I have taught introductory philosophy and ethics to first-year students for over a decade. I signed up for chapters 2 and 3, but if the editors want us all to take on only one chapter, then I would go with chapter 3. My research is mostly in political philosophy, theory of recognition and critical theory. I am currently at the University of Essex, England.

  • @jakranak Thanks!

  • @dmgile Thanks! I can open up chapter 2 then. We seem to be running out of chapters!


  • @kathrynlmackay Hi Kathryn–welcome! It would be great if you wanted to work with someone else on that chapter in the book. You could at least draft something around the sub-chapter in the area you know about.

    I’ll let @geoslack comment on care ethics vs feminist views of autonomy and agency. He is the one who is really in charge of this part of the book!

    For me, I do see the point about care ethics possibly being essentializing, though I think there are ways to frame it where it focuses on care rather than on gender…at least, that’s how I’ve tried to teach it myself. So I say it started off being about gender but we don’t have to think about it that way because the focus really is about care as a virtue rather than about what kind of genders seem to be more “caring.” Does that make sense? Maybe not…I might not be getting all the nuances!

    Which isn’t to say there might not be room for something else too, like the views you point to.

  • @kathrynlmackay @clhendricksbc I believe Nel Noddings addresses essentialism in the preface to the 2013 edition of Caring - this is why she renamed the book.

    I do think that care ethics essentializes to some extent, but I’ve always taken that essentialism to be gender-neutral. As I understand it, the core of the argument is this: human beings characteristically have needs that can only be met by other human beings. Care ethicists then go on to argue that women have historically been forced/expected/conditioned to shoulder most of that burden, but that’s a contingent, descriptive claim, not an ontological or prescriptive one. So care ethics is essentialist when it comes to human beings, not to women specifically.

    I don’t have any of the texts to hand at the moment, and I may have totally misunderstood the objection, so please correct me if I’m talking nonsense!

  • @stevensteyl while we certainly won’t be able to settle the debate here about whether reconstruing ethics as a matter of caring relations among real people and associating that approach with the feminine is essentializing or not, that debate should, in my view at least, be included in the chapter.

  • @kathrynlmackay perhaps your discussion of feminist Ethics can deal briefly with different approaches critically evaluating as you see fit. In general though, although my table of contents goes into a bit of detail on what each chapter will cover, those are just my ideas and I am happy to be flexible and let contributors contribute what they think best characterizes the approach to ethics they are dealing with.

  • @geoslack cool, sounds good. I can maybe work something up and then see how it fits with what my future collaborator is writing on those sections of the chapter? In thinking more about care ethics and a bit about what some folks have said here (like @clhendricksbc and @stevensteyl), the most constructive way to approach it could be simply to point out the contribution that care ethics made to the progress of fem’t thought, like to Susan Sherwin’s ideas in ‘No Longer Patient.’ Relational autonomy, after all, begins by recognising the relationships of dependence and care that we are born into and live in. I don’t think that care ethics has contributed nothing or should be avoided completely. I just wonder if the section could take autonomy/agency as the central topic, rather than taking care ethics as the central topic. I think the conversation would develop differently in each case. It sounds like you, @geoslack, don’t have a horse in this race, so I’ll take it that the former would be acceptable unless corrected.

  • @kathrynlmackay Sounds great. As a Kantian who is a great fan of Christine Korsgaard the horse I back is always the autonomous one! I look forward to reading your contribution.

  • I have a draft of chapter 6 on Kantian deontology:

    Right now, I’m working to shorten it it down to the proper length. My first draft was about 6000 words. It’s down to 4715 words. I’ve also included two optional sidebars, of 436 and 348 words, respectively.

    It’s on Google Docs, so if you want to track changes while editing, use the “Suggesting” setting, or just leave comments. Right now, suggestions on what to cut would be the most helpful.

  • administrators

    @jakranak Wonderful, thank you! This is our first official chapter submission for the book, so an extra thank you for that. I’ll let @geoslack chime in on the length & sidebars question.

  • @zoe Actually, I think @geoslack got one chapter over email already, so this would be the second. But I’m glad we’re moving right along here! I expect George will chime in soon…

  • @geoslack I am working on chapter 3, virtue ethics, and wondering about the connections with and possible duplication with the discussion of feminist ethics currently called for in the outline for chapter 7 - “what does philosophical ethics look like now?” I feel I would definitely need to touch on feminist virtue ethics in my chapter and want to coordinate with whomever is writing chapter 7. Do we have a final list of chapter authors?

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