Feminist contribution to moral philosophy, on the example of ethics of care

Kadri Simm

The key questions of moral philosophy – right and wrong, with explanations and applications – have also inevitably been the focus of feminist approaches. Do theories of ethics that seek to be universal consider women’s experiences? How have traditionally masculine and feminine attitudes, actions and ways of thinking been evaluated form the perspective of morals? Can only a feminine woman who is true to her gender role be virtuous or is it also possible outside of the home and the family, for example in the public sphere? What deconstructive critiques and constructive suggestions do feminist theorists present to the traditional canon of moral philosophy? Throughout much of history men’s and women’s life experiences have been quite different because of traditional gender roles. Has that also meant different experiences and opinions about right and wrong? Feminist moral philosophy tries to deal with these questions systematically.

The article focuses on feminist moral philosophy on the example of ethics of care. The emergence of the ethics of care is associated with psychologist Carol Gilligan and her 1982 book „In a different voice“, but today it has become a more widely applied approach, for example in Feminist moral philosophy does not (with some exceptions) seek to create a separate ethics for women. However, it stresses that it is important to consider women’s experiences and to question frameworks that tend to exclude women’s interests, rights and positions from serious discussion of morals, medicine, social policy or global justice.