Carol Gilligan

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Do you think that Carol Gilligan's ethics of care is a type of virtue ethics, like that given by Aristotle? Why or why not?

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One could argue that Carol Gilligan’s “ethics of care” is or isn’t like the idea of virtue promulgated by Aristotle. Both sides can be argued: just make sure you back up your argument with evidence.

If one wanted to argue that Aristotle’s idea of virtue is similar to Gilligan’s notion, one could explain how Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics presents virtue as something that occurs between people. Like Gilligan, Aristotle, at times, opposes placing virtue in a vacuum. Virtue is not inevitably abstract, opaque, or beyond the grasp of humans. Aristotle grounds virtue in specific activities and interactions. As with Gilligan’s concept of virtue, Aristotle positions virtue as a result of relationships and how such relationships are judged and perceived by members of society.

Conversely, one could claim that Aristotle’s virtue remains too individualistic to be like the type of communal-based virtue espoused by Gilligan. There are moments in Nicomachean Ethics where Aristotle discusses virtue in a way that Gilligan critiques. Gilligan doesn’t think virtue is something that manifests through an isolated individual “looking up at the sky.” Aristotle doesn’t literally paint virtue in that light; however, there are times when Aristotle arguably makes virtue an individual concern in which virtue is demonstrated by how well a single person manages their personal pain, pleasure, fear, and so on.

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