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The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 1, 1999

Ethics

Virginia Held
Pages 41-49
DOI: 10.5840/wcp20199917

Feminist Ethical Theory

I will treat feminist ethical theory as a distinct type of theory. Although some feminists are skeptical about the need for theory as distinct from cultivating practices of being morally perceptive and sensitive, many others argue for the theory they see as needed. Feminist ethical theory usually includes, but is not limited to, the concerns that have been developed under the heading of ‘the ethics of care’ or ‘care ethics’. Care ethics are usually contrasted with ethics of justice, such as Kantian and utilitarian moral theories. Instead of being a theory primarily focused on right action, an ethic of care seeks moral evaluations of relations between persons, and reinterprets both personal and political relations in light of the value of care. I will show how feminist ethical theory differs from virtue theory as well as from Kantian and utilitarian theories.