Caring: A Relational Approach to Ethics and Moral Education

By Nel Noddings | Go to book overview

PREFACE TO
THE 2003 EDITION

THE FIRST EDITION OF Caring was published in 1984. In the intervening years, thanks to constructive criticism from people in a variety of fields, I have learned a great deal about my own project. I know more clearly what I was trying to do, what I should have explained more fully, and what I should not have said at all. If I were to undertake the project now, Caring would be a different book, but the text of this edition has not been changed. In this brief preface, I will point to some of the issues that new readers should consider.

Perhaps the greatest contribution of care theory as it is developed here is its emphasis on the caring relation. Relations, not individuals, are ontologically basic, and I use “caring” to describe a certain kind of relation or encounter. It is certainly true that “caring” is also construed as a virtue, as an attribute or disposition frequently exercised by a moral agent. I used the term both ways in Caring, and I was not always careful in noting the distinction. However, my intention is clearly stated at the end of chapter 2 (on the one-caring): “But caring is a relationship that contains another, the cared-for, and we have already suggested that the one-caring and the cared-for are reciprocally dependent” (p. 58). Both play significant parts in caring relations.

The reciprocity in caring relations is not contractual; that is, we do not expect the cared-for to balance the relation by doing what the one-caring (or carer) does. In equal relations, we do expect that, under appropriate conditions, the parties will exchange places as carer and cared-for. The world is not divided into carers and cared-fors as separate and permanent classes. We are all inevitably cared-fors at many times and, ideally, most of us are carers.

However, many relations are not equal or symmetric, and it is in analyzing unequal relations that we see the special contribution of the cared-for. By recognizing the carer’s efforts, by responding in some positive way, the cared-for makes a distinctive contribution to the relation and establishes it as caring. In this way, infants contribute to the parent-child rela

-xxi-

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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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