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Philosophy 209 Topics: Feminist Ethics

Richard Lynch

We'll begin with an overview of feminist approaches to ethical problems and ethical issues of particular importance for feminists, and then turn to a more focused examination of particular questions.  Have ethical theory and law ignored women's perspectives and concerns? Do standard conceptions of justice address women's ethical perspectives?  Should feminists attempt to articulate an entirely new, gender- or woman-centered ethical viewpoint, or can they adapt traditional approaches to a feminist orientation?  Two parallel conversations within feminist ethics will allow us to get at these questions:  Carol Gilligan's In a Different Voice, which proposed an "ethics of care" alongside justice, has prompted vigorous debates among feminists—we'll be able to follow this debate over several decades.  Similarly, Susan Moller Okin's Justice, Gender, and the Family foregrounded ethical and legal issues between the family and the workplace, and women's attempts to balance these concerns—we'll be able to look at how these debates have developed, too.
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