Caring: A Relational Approach to Ethics and Moral Education

By Nel Noddings | Go to book overview

PREFACE TO THE 2013 EDITION

The first edition of Caring was published in 1984. In the intervening years, interest in the ethics of care has grown substantially. On my own library shelf, there are now books and articles on care theory in philosophy, psychology, religion, bioethics, library science, peace studies, art, anthropology, education, and business. Some of the initial fears about caring have been allayed; for example, few critics now worry that attention to caring as a way of life will send women back to the kitchen and the nursery. But some genuine concerns remain, and a few important misunderstandings and differences of opinion have grown over time. In this preface, I will address some of these misunderstandings and attempt to respond to critics. In an afterword, I suggest a program for future work on care ethics.

One important complaint—with which I heartily sympathize—focuses on the former subtitle of Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics and Moral Education. Hardly anyone has reacted positively to the word feminine here. In using it, I wanted to acknowledge the roots of caring in women’s experience, but using “a woman’s approach” rather than “feminine” risked the complete loss of male readers. With “feminine,” at least a few male Jungians wrote to say that they felt included. I think critics are right, however, to point out that the connotations of “feminine” are off-putting and do not capture what I intended to convey. Relational is a better word. Virtually all care theorists make the relation more fundamental than the individual. Virginia Held comments: “The ethics of care … conceptualizes persons as deeply affected by, and involved in, relations with others; to many care theorists persons are at least partly constituted by their social ties. The ethics of care … does not assume that relations relevant for morality have been entered into voluntarily by free and equal individuals as do dominant moral theories.”1

Persons as individuals are formed in relation. I do not, however, want to lose the centrality of women’s experience in care ethics, and I’ve tried to make the connection more explicit in both Starting at Home: Caring and Social Policy and The Maternal Factor: Two Paths to Morality.2

I have called the language used in Caring the language of the mother, as

-xiii-

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Caring: A Relational Approach to Ethics and Moral Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Preface to the 2013 Edition xiii
  • Preface to the 2003 Edition xxi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Why Care about Caring? 7
  • 2 - The One-Caring 30
  • 3 - The Cared-for 59
  • 4 - An Ethic of Caring 79
  • 5 - Construction of the Ideal 104
  • 6 - Enhancing the Ideal- Joy 132
  • 7 - Caring for Animals, Plants, Things and Ideas 148
  • 8 - Moral Education 171
  • Afterword 203
  • Notes 209
  • Select Bibliography 219
  • Index 223
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