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Ethics: Chapter 10


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Ethics and Gender

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Ethics: Chapter 10

  1. 1. Chapter Ten: Gender and EthicsThe female perspective of moral issues hasbeen ignored in favor of a male perspective Female Genital Mutilation Example
  2. 2. Alison Jaggar: Five Harms with the Male Bias in Ethics Relegates to women subservient obligations (obedience, silence, and faithfulness) Confines women to a socially isolated domestic realm of society with little legitimate political regulation Denies the moral agency of women, claiming they lack the capacity for moral reasoning
  3. 3. Alison Jaggar: Five Harms with the Male Bias in Ethics Preference for masculine values over female ones (e.g., independence, autonomy, intellect vs. interdependence, community, connection, sharing, emotion) Prefers male notions of moral rules, judgments about particular actions, impartial moral assessments, contractual agreements.
  4. 4. Two Key QuestionsHow do men and women psychologicallydiffer from each other (if at all)?Based on those psychological differences,how do men and women differ from eachother (if at all)?
  5. 5. Classic Views Aristotle: Women and Natural Subservience Rousseau: Women as Objects of Sexual Desire Wollstonecraft: Gender-Neutral Morality Instinct vs. Social Construction
  6. 6. Aristotle: Women and Natural Subservience Psychological question: men are designed to command, and women to obey Different capacities of the soul Slave: no deliberative faculty at all Women: the deliberative faculty without authority Child: an immature deliberative faculty
  7. 7. Aristotle: Women and Natural Subservience Moral question: women have subservient virtues Different virtues for different capacities of the soul Man: temperance and courage in commanding Women: temperance and courage in obeying
  8. 8. Aristotle: Women and Natural Subservience Criticism: based on the roles of women in ancient patriarchal societies
  9. 9. Rousseau: Women as Objects of Sexual Desire Psychological question: women are designed to sexually please men “It is his strength that attracts her to him, and it is her allurement that attracts him to her.”
  10. 10. Rousseau: Women as Objects of Sexual Desire Moral question: women should learn to entice men He depends on her cooperation to satisfy his sexual desires, and she submits to his superior strength when she gets what she wants from him
  11. 11. Wollstonecraft: Gender-Neutral Morality Psychological question: men and women are fundamentally the same The apparent differences are the result of sexist education
  12. 12. Wollstonecraft: Gender-Neutral Morality Moral question: Three features of personhood(what separates humans from animals): reason, the exercise of virtue, and the passion for knowledge
  13. 13. Wollstonecraft: Gender-Neutral Morality Moral question: All moral duties are human duties and there are no special female virtues or obligations • Child rearing: women are not necessarily good at it • No special moral obligation to be subservient and sexually alluring
  14. 14. Instinct vs. Social Construction Criticism of Wollstonecraft: her basis for denying psychological gender differences was based on her own experience as a woman
  15. 15. Instinct vs. Social Construction Nature-nurture issue regarding psychological gender differences Today we are still unclear, and unsubstantiated stereotypes still abound Toy study with rhesus monkeys: boys preferred wheeled toys over dolls, girls preferred both
  16. 16. Instinct vs. Social Construction Best to postpone answering the nature- nurture question for now But some psychological differences are so strong that they may form foundations for gender differences in ethics
  17. 17. Female Care Ethics Kohlberg and Gilligan: Justice vs. Care Care and Particularism Care and Virtues
  18. 18. Kohlberg and Gilligan: Justice vs. Care Kohlbergs theory Six stages of moral development, which move from selfishness to impartial justice
  19. 19. Kohlberg and Gilligan: Justice vs. Care Gilligans theory Criticism of Kohlberg: his study used only males, and his justice view of morality was male-oriented
  20. 20. Kohlberg and Gilligan: Justice vs. Care Gilligans theory A womans moral point of view is different from a mans • Men typically emphasize rights and principles of justice • Women typically focus on particular relationships
  21. 21. Kohlberg and Gilligan: Justice vs. Care Gilligans theory Care-ethics: attitudes like caring and sensitivity to context is an important aspect of the moral life
  22. 22. Care and Particularism Moral particularism: morality always involves particular relations with people, not lifeless abstractions Classical moral theory incorporates some particularism by recognizing obligations to family, friends, and local community
  23. 23. Care and Particularism Criticism: this is not a dominant feature of traditional ethics, and it may not go far enough
  24. 24. Care and Virtues Nel Noddings: Care should be seen as a component of virtue theory, where care is a nurturing character trait that we personally internalize, as we do other virtues
  25. 25. Four options regarding gender and ethics Male-Only Option Female-Only Option Separate-but-Equal Option Mutually-Inclusive Option