Partial Reason: Critical and Constructive Transformations of Ethics and Epistemology

By Sally E. Talbot | Go to book overview

Introduction

During the years following my first philosophical encounter with the ethic of care in the mid-1980s, I have become increasingly interested in trying to develop care as both a critical and a constructive resource for feminist theory. This interest has been generated from two sources. On one hand, it has arisen from my own exhilaration after reading the original work of Carol Gilligan1 and Nel Noddings2 at finding myself engaged intellectually both as a moral philosopher and as a feminist. My experience of seeing colleagues and students across the academic disciplines stimulated by their first encounters with theories of care has been shared by many over the past decade. As Monique Deveaux has pointed out: "[T]he suggestion that an ethic of care is central to morality has generated controversy in sociology, ethics, moral and political philosophy, and political science, as well as in such professional fields as nursing, medicine, and education." 3

On the other hand, like many feminist philosophers who have turned their energies to developing theories of care, I have found myself caught up in the controversies to which Deveaux alludes. Debates about the assumptions and implications of care ethics have elicited responses not only from those working in a variety of disciplines and professions but also from those belonging to various political persuasions and schools of thought. Susan Hekman notes the diversity of reactions to Gilligan's early work:

[In a Different Voice] has been both criticized and praised by feminists, moral philosophers, and moral psychologists. Gilligan's work has been hailed both as the harbinger of a new moral theory and as the final blow to the exhausted masculinist tradition of moral philosophy. It has also been condemned as methodologically unsound, theoretically confused, and even antifeminist. Gilligan's critics and defenders have cast her, respectively, as either villain or saviour in the ongoing intellectual debate of the 1980s and 1990s. 4

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Partial Reason: Critical and Constructive Transformations of Ethics and Epistemology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Philosophy ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents VII
  • Preface IX
  • Acknowledgements XI
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 6
  • Chapter 1 People Standing Alone: A Critique of Liberal Moral Theory 9
  • Notes 29
  • Chapter 2 a Necessary Corrective? Responses That Fill the Gaps 37
  • Notes 57
  • Chapter 3 Theorising Connection as Primary: Understandings of Selves-In-Relation 63
  • Notes 85
  • Chapter 4 Seeing Together: Care as Disposition 91
  • Notes 113
  • Chapter 5 Understanding Partiality: Problematising Conceptions of Knowledge and Knowing 121
  • Notes 149
  • Chapter 6 Partial Reason: the Epistemological Imperatives of Partiality 157
  • Notes 183
  • Chapter 7 Care: the Ethical Imperatives of Partiality 187
  • Notes 213
  • Bibliography 219
  • Index 231
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