Care Ethics: A Concept in Search of a Framework
Loewy, Erich H.
Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics. 1995 Winter; 4(1): 56-63.
In this paper, I want to try to put what has been termed the "care ethics" into a different perspective. While I will discuss primarily the use of that ethic or that term as it applies to the healthcare setting in general and to the deliberation of consultants or the function of committees more specifically, what I have to say is meant to be applicable to the problem of using a notion like "caring" as a fundamental precept in ethical decision making. I will set out to examine the relationship between theoretical ethics, justice-based reasoning, and care-based reasoning and conclude by suggesting not only that all are part of a defensible solution when adjudicating individual cases, but that these three are linked and can, in fact, be mutually corrective. I will claim that using what has been called "the care ethic" alone is grossly insufficient for solving individual problems and that the term can (especially when used without a disciplined framework) be extremely dangerous. I will readily admit that while blindly using an approach based solely on theoretically derived principles is perhaps somewhat less dangerous, it is bound to be sterile, unsatisfying, and perhaps even cruel in individual situations. Care ethics, as I understand the concept, is basically a non- or truly an anti-intellectual kind of ethic in that it tries not only to value feeling over thought in deliberating problems of ethics, but indeed, would almost entirely substitute feeling for thought. Feeling when used to underwrite undisciplined and intuitive action without theory has no head and, therefore, no plan and no direction; theory eventuating in sterile rules and eventually resulting in action heedlessly based on such rules lacks humanity and heart. Neither one nor the other is complete in itself. There is no reason why we necessarily should be limited to choosing between these two extremes.
Allowing to Die; Bioethics; Caring; Clinical Ethics; Clinical Ethics Committees; Consultation; Decision Making; Deontological Ethics; Emotions; Ethical Analysis; Ethicists; Ethics; Ethics Committees; Family Members; Females; Feminist Ethics; Justice; Males; Nurses; Patients; Philosophy; Physicians; Referral and Consultation; Terminology;
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