Lecture by Prof. Eva Feder Kittay
Liberal theories of justice, with their emphasis on individualism, their inability to incorporate the dependency concerns, and in their abstract characterization of citizens as rational, independent, and fully functioning agents that cooperate for mutual advantage, have failed to present a vision of a society that is responsive to the needs and concerns of many women.
What if we think that a fully just society would be one in which interpersonal relations conformed to an ethic of care and in which the work of caring for dependents, work that continues to be a prominent concern of women, were taken seriously? What would our conception of justice be in that case? What sort of social institutions would help foster, support, and function in accordance with an ethic of care? How would basic elements of how we think about justice change? If feminists are correct in thinking that liberalism has not provided the guidance in building a society that accommodates many of women’s concerns, can we conceive of a better political conception of justice, one that makes an ethic of care central?