Modern Morality: Care Ethics


Photo by Kristine Cho

Kristine Cho

The life of a high school student is quite heavily influenced by the different relationships we gain and maintain. As students, we encounter so many different yet distinct types of relationships with teachers, teammates, and friends. As such, high school is quite an interesting social web and perfect place to examine care ethics.
Care ethics arose as a feminist critique of most modern schools of thought, shifting the focus of moral consideration from abstract and seemingly arbitrary rules to human relationships. This mode of thought relies upon the recognition that human relationships is fundamental to understanding morality. The social web humans have created around themselves is understood as the source of identity and is thus prioritized. The bonds people make and break are definitive of their identities, and thus, their very lives.
Care ethics places caring and relationships to be the first thing to consider when faced with moral dilemmas, often turning to a Confucian style attention to duties that are inherent within relationships. For example, in the event that someone has to weigh options in a situation where their personal success comes at the expense of a close friend or teammate, their obligation, according to care ethics, is then to not take such an opportunity and work with their peer, not to exploit them.
Friendships, families, and the intricacies that are found in the social web that they form often feel the impacts of important decisions that we make as individuals. What feminist care ethics reminds us are of those very impacts. The basis of this code of ethics stretches far beyond simply being kind to those around us; it concerns who we are as friends, students and sons and daughters, and in turn, who we are as people.