Earlier this year, Fiona Robinson, a prominent scholar on the intersection of ethics, feminism, and international relations, published a new article on "feminist foreign policy as ethical foreign policy." Although the article is behind a paywall, Robinson's ideas on the ethics of care are articulated in this earlier interview:
"My first question, Fiona, is clearly the most obvious. Please give us a definition. Just what is ethics of care? What does it have to do with the particular experiences of women? What distinguishes it from the dominant rights-based or duty-based moral theories?
"The ethics of care is a relatively new way of thinking about ethics. Interestingly, it emerged not really from ethics in philosophy or even from political theory, but from work in social and moral psychology. ... Carol Gilligan was a social and moral psychologist. She did some empirical work where she compared men’s and women’s, and also girls’ and boys’, responses to a number of moral dilemmas that she put to them. What she heard was a different voice coming from the girls and the women. She heard that women and girls were often articulating their responses to these moral dilemmas in very different ways than what she was hearing from the boys and the men. The boys and the men focused on principle-based morality, the idea of applying moral principles universally to different situations, using terms like “justice”—what is just? What is right?—ideas of reciprocity. But she heard a different voice coming from the girls and the women, a voice of morality not as a series of moral decisions, but as a narrative that plays out over time. The girls and the women focused very much on relationships. This is a key idea in the ethics of care. ... Relationships of responsibility that grow over time and a feeling that you can’t understand morality without looking ontologically, if you will—so thinking about human beings not as autonomous subjects, but as being embedded in networks and relationships of care. ... My own work has developed from early work, which was very interested in the theory, the moral philosophy of these issues, to recognizing its implications for the real-world issues, as you say, of economics and globalization. So when I think of care, I think of it as a set of moral responses, moral virtues, moral practices. But it’s also a physical practice. Care work is a type of work; it’s a type of labor. It is, I think, an economic issue, and it’s a very important feminist issue, insofar as around the world it’s mostly women who are doing care work. Two-thirds of all care work done around the world is done by women. Much of this work is unremunerated. Feminist economists have done studies to show that the total value of unremunerated care work is something like $11 trillion, or two-thirds of the total market economy. ... Now we are seeing the phenomenon of the so-called “care drain,” where care workers are migrating from income-poor countries in the South to take up the care work in wealthier nations. More women around the world are entering the paid labor force. This is creating so-called 'care deficits.' ... Human security, then, just to reiterate, is about changing the referent from state security to individual security, and also broadening the aspects of security, so security is no longer seen as just a military issue."
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