What are the pros and cons to adopting an ethics of care in medical context?
Before considering the pros and cons of the ethics of care approach in medicine, it is important to consider its meaning and origin. According to the work of Carol Gilligan (1982), ethics of care is grounded in voice and relationship with focus on everyone having a voice and the need to be heard with respect. The ethics of care position gained popularity out of the feminist movement and based upon the observation of the female tendency to approach moral issues with empathy and concern for the relationship in contrast to the ethics of justice which is based upon approaching moral issues with a clear and definable set of rules and principles. In medicine, health care teams may consist of people who use a different set of ethics to approach a given medical situation. One could argue both ethics of care and ethics of justice have a role in these decisions. To strictly use one and not the other could have undesirable and unintended consequences (pro). On the other hand, when used together, it may put members of a health care team at odds with one another (con). A good example of the role of ethics of care in medicine is discussed in "Applying the Ethics of Care to Your Nursing Practice" by V.D.Lachman where she concludes that care is critical for human development and survival (pro), but if one regards care as an ethical task, it can be viewed as a burden or as one more thing to do (con). Another interesting argument is that the adoption of care ethics can facilitate justice (pro) and emotion, the basis of care ethics, is integral in morality and in medicine in order to provide acceptable health care (pro).