Two Part Discussion Question

Part I

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The information that you will need for the discussion can be found in Case 13a, p. 48; Case 11, p. 19; and Case 19, p. 132 of Thinking Critically About Ethical Issues. For one of these cases, identify the parties and the moral issue(s) at stake, keeping an eye out for similarities that it shares with the other cases. Concentrate on identifying the relationships among the individuals. What relationships of care need to be maintained or developed?

***Case 13a. A married couple discovered that their 22 year old daughter, a college senior, is a lesbian. They are shocked and dismayed, for they regard this as a moral degeneracy. They are thinking of refusing to attend her graduation and refusing to welcome her in their home until she renounces this sexual preference.

***Case 11. A married couple, both addicted to drugs, are unable to care for their infant daughter. She is taken from them by court order and placed in a foster home. The years pass. She comes to regard her foster parents as her real parents. They lover her as they would their own daughter. When the child is 9 years old, her natural parents, rehabilitated from drugs, begin court action to regain custody. The case is decided in their favor. The child is returned to them, against her will. Does ethics support the law in this case?

***Case 19. Elvira is very much in love with her fiancé, Ethelred. Though they have been engaged for over a year (and sexually initimate for almost as long), Ethelred balks at setting a date for marriage. Elvira is convinced that his obstacle is not disaffection, but fear, and that once he can be moved into action, he will be relieved and happy. She therefore feigns pregnancy and plans to feign a miscarriage after they are married.

Part II

In this week’s module we saw that the ethics of care views human life in terms of cycles of attachment. Overlapping relations and cycles of relations make up who we are as individuals. We do not get a sense of who we are by detaching ourselves from our relations with others. This contrasts with the conception of defining the self in separation from and even opposition to others. Do you agree with the idea that we are who we are in terms of our relations, and that we are neither independent nor separate?

In the AVP for this week we also saw that Gilligan rejects Kohlberg’s assumption of a hierarchical ordering that places abstract thinking above thinking in terms of narratives involving human relations when trying to gauge the moral development of individuals. Do you see her critique as a strong one? And if so, what might the success of her critique suggest about employing similar feminist approaches to other areas of the Western philosophical tradition beyond just ethics—such as metaphysics or epistemology? These disciplines too, have tacitly assumed—at least since the Enlightenment—that genuine insight into the nature of reality and the structure of truth is to be arrived at via a penchant for abstract thinking, universalizable principles, and a strict adherence to rationality. For instance, how might a feminist, or what other philosopher’s have called a “Communitarian”, approach to the metaphysical question concerning the nature of the individual, or self—and what it means to be one—contrast with what Hobbes or Kant took the self to be?

***Textbooks used: Thinking Critically about ethical issues by Vincent Ruggiero and Ethical choices an introduction to moral philosophy with cases by Richard Burnor & Yvonne Raley***