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Historical Background Feminist approaches to ethics, as well as debates about the gendered nature of morality, are not recent developments.
Company with Health Central Women's Care jobs UW Medicine - Northwest Hospital & Medical Center Northwest Hospital is a non-profit, community hospital located in North Seattle and is part of the UW Medicine health system. Feminist Ethics is an attempt to revise, reformulate, or rethink traditional ethics to the extent it depreciates or devalues women's moral experience. Among others, feminist philosopher Alison Jaggar faults traditional ethics for letting women down in five related ways. First, it shows less concern for women's as opposed to men's issues and interests. Women Veterans who are interested in receiving care at VA should contact the nearest VA Medical Center. Women Veterans are assigned to a designated Women’s Health Primary Care Provider who can provide general primary care and is specially trained or experienced in women’s care.
Are moral virtues as well as gender traits connected with one's affective as well as cognitive capacities, indeed with one's physiology and psychology? If so, should we simply accept the fact that men and women have different moral virtues as well as different gender traits and proceed accordingly?
If not, should we strive to get men and women to adhere to the same morality: Asking herself questions like the ones raised above, Mary Wollstonecraft concluded that moral virtue is unitary.
Women, she said, are obligated to practice the same morality men practice; that is, human morality. Deprived of sufficient opportunities to develop their rational powers, women wind up being overly emotional, hypersensitive, narcissistic, self-indulgent individuals.
Wollstonecraft said there is nothing wrong about women, including their supposedly weak moral characters, that cannot be cured by a rigorous education; that is, the kind of education that aims to develop students' rational powers.
Men have concerns, causes, and commitments over and beyond petty, self-interested ones because they receive a proper education. Give women men's education, said Wollstonecraft, and women, no less than men, will become morally-mature human beings Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women, p.
Wollstonecraft identified reason rather than sentience as the characteristic that distinguishes humans from non-human animals. She contrasted manners, such as any mindless automaton one might master, with morals which require critical thinking.
Whereas parents teach boys morals, they teach girls manners, she said. Worse, society twists what could be woman's virtues into vices. Repelled by her female contemporaries' negative psychological traits, particularly present in the upper-middle class, Wollstonecraft reasoned that the best way for women to become full-fledged moral agents is for them to start thinking and behaving like men.
It did not occur to her to question whether men's morality was in fact human morality. At other times, however, Wollstonecraft suggested that women need to be educated like men so that they can become rational, responsible, independent adults.
Discussions about what makes a human being good did not end with Wollstonecraft but continued into the next century. In an irony of history, by the nineteenth-century women were regarded as more moral though also as less intellectual than men, a view that disturbed utilitarian philosopher John Stuart Mill.
As he saw it, society is mistaken to set up an ethical double standard according to which women's morality is to be assessed differently than men's morality.
Reflecting on women's alleged moral superiority, Mill concluded that women's morality is simply the result of systematic social conditioning. Mill, The Subjection of Women, p.
Women are taught to live for others; to always give and never take; to submit, yield and obey; to be long-suffering. They are also taught to demur to men because they are not as smart and strong as men. This being the case, women's virtue is not the product of autonomous choice. Rather, it is the consequence of social programming.
At root, there is but one virtue—human virtue—and women as well as men should be pushed to adhere to its standards. Then, and only then, will society be as just and prosperous as possible. Mill, The Subjection of Women, In contrast to Wollstonecraft and Mill, other nineteenth-century thinkers denied that virtue is or should be the same for both sexes.
Instead, they provided a separate-but-equal theory of virtue according to which male and female virtues are simply different.
Or they elaborated a separate-and-unequal theory of virtue according to which female virtue is fundamentally better than male virtue.
Importantly, this diverse group of thinkers disagreed among themselves about how to assess the characteristics nurturance, empathy, compassion, self-sacrifice, kindness typically associated with women.
Catherine Beecher was among this group of thinkers. She thought that women's place was in the home. Unlike some of her contemporaries, however, she thought that women's work, understood as the creation and maintenance of strong families in which moral virtue thrives, was essential for society's well-being.
Beecher also emphasized that women's most important work is to make the members of her family like Christ, who died a painful death so that humankind could be redeemed from its fallen, sinful state.
The more pure and perfect women are, the better society will be. Convinced that women were responsible for morally perfecting men and children, Beecher never asked herself why God had burdened women rather than men with this responsibility, imposing on women the task of specializing in the virtue of self-denying benevolence.
After all, given that Christ was a man, should not God have selected men be the keepers of society's virtue? Writing around the time Beecher wrote, Elizabeth Cady Stanton also saw differences between women's and men's moralities.
Although Stanton was not certain whether what she perceived as men's and women's diverging virtues and vices were the result of social manipulation or biological imperative, she knew that men's morals, of which she had a generally low opinion, had set the standard for behavior in the public world.CommUnityCare - Providing the right care, at the right time, at the right place.
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