She said, hey! put your self in my shoes : moral theory and the Gilligan-Kohlberg controversy

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Horan, Patrick James
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This thesis is an examination of a debate in contemporary moral theory that centres on the issue of whether moral thinking and practise ought to be based on formal principles of justice or upon caring and responsibility. On one hand is the view that justice is the ethically optimal endpoint of moral development, while on the other is the argument that justice is biased towards male moral experience, a bias evident both in moral psychology and justice-based moral philosophy. Three main questions arising from this debate are considered: (1) are feminist criticisms of justice-based moral theory justified? (2) can a psychological account of the care perspective in moral thinking be developed into a coherent philosophical perspective? and (3) does care, as a moral perspective, address feminist criticisms of justice? Feminist criticisms of justice-based moral theory are considered with respect to he writings of Rousseau, Kant, Mill, Engels, Rawls and Habermas. Feminist philosophers considered are Virginia Held, Seyla Benhabib, Laurie Shrage, Kathryn Pyne Addelson and Michelle Moody-Adams. Parallels are drawn between the work of feminist moral theorists and feminist psychologists of moral development, in an attempt to develop a foundation for an ethic of care. Care and justice, as moral perspectives, are both found insufficient based on their reductivist approach to moral practise and judgment. A non-relativist moral pluralism is forwarded as a resolution of the care-justice debate.