Feminist Ethic of Care: A Third Alternative Approach
Health Care Analysis: An International Journal of Health Care Philosophy and Policy 2004 December; 12(4): 317-327
A man with Alzheimer's who wanders around, a caregiver who disconnects the alarm, a daughter acting on her own, and a doctor who is not consulted set the stage for a feminist reflection on capacity/competence assessment. Feminist theory attempts to account for gender inequality in the political and in the epistemological realm. One of its tasks is to unravel the settings in which actual practices, i.e. capacity/competence assessment take place and offer an alternative. In this article the focus will be on a feminist ethics of care in which relationality, care, vulnerability, and responsibility are privileged concepts and attitudes. The emphasis on these notions leads to a specific view of autonomy that has consequences for both care receivers (patients, clients) and caregivers (professional and not professional). These concepts constitute a default setting that shapes the context for capacity/competence assessment. Whereas this notion is meant to distinguish between those who need to be taken care of and those who do not, reflection on what it means to say 'those who need to be taken care of is also required. The feminist analysis presented here emphasizes the necessity of the contextualization of assessment of competence. It sketches the multifold and complex grid that comprehends capacity assessment.
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