What does Held mean when she asks for a "feminist transformation of ethics"?

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Virginia Held is a leading feminist philosopher who was born October 28, 1929. She is making a feminist argument for including a gendered understanding of ethical decisions and theory. She argues that ethics or moral theory has been lacking a feminine point of view. She claims that male ideals such as reason, logic and a lack of emotion have become valued and female ideals such as emotion and compassion have been devalued through a history of excluding female voices, historians, and theorists throughout the Western World. She argues for an inclusion of women in the field of theory to help us form a new ethics.

"Feminist reconceptualization and recommendations concerning the relation between reason and emotion, the distinction between private, and the concept of the self, are providing insights deeply challenging to standard moral theory. The implications of this work are that we need an almost total reconstruction of social and political and economic and legal theory in all their traditions..."

Virginia Held is arguing for an ethics that is unique and focuses on care. It is distinctly different from Kantian, utilitarian and virtue-based ethical programs.

Held, Virginia. Feminist Transformations of Moral Theory. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 50, Supplement (Autumn, 1990), pp. 321-344.