It is through a thick conceptual framing that we can make sense of care—both as a complex social practice and an important moral value in the worlds that we inhabit, says this paper.
Ira Chadha-Sridhar, PhD Candidate, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom and Lecturer, Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
Philosophers who study care—most often, care ethicists—are involved in an ongoing discussion about the concept of care. Despite the significant progress made in this discussion, certain conflicting images of care seem to persist in the literature. On one hand, as feminist theorists across disciplines have highlighted, care is a complex social practice that is mired in inequality and injustice. The deeply gendered nature of caring and the unequal division of care-work creates and cements structural inequalities.
On the other hand, care is also thought of as a moral value or an ideal. The ethics of care—a moral theory with decidedly feminist roots—is predicated on the idea that caring is somehow morally valuable. A discrepancy thus arises: care is a social practice that compounds injustices. But it is also a moral value. What is it about care that makes it malleable to such variations?
To pick out this complexity and capture the conceptual nuances at play, this paper suggests that we frame the concept of care as a thick ethical concept. I will first demonstrate why this framing is helpful. Then, I will provide accounts of the descriptive and evaluative elements of the concept of care. I hope to show that it is through a thick conceptual framing that we can make sense of care—both as a complex social practice and an important moral value in the worlds that we inhabit.
Published in: Res Publica
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