Caring for More Than Humans: Ecofeminism and Care Ethics in Conversation

In Odin Lysaker (ed.), Between Closeness and Evil. Oslo, Norge: pp. 183-213 (2020)

Tove Pettersen
University of Oslo
Over the last four decades, both ecofeminism and care ethics have profoundly theorized the link between oppression and what is viewed as Others, such as women, non-human animals and nature. After uncovering and analyzing some important commonalities and differences between these two branches of feminist ethical theories and their critiques of dominant Western philosophy and ethics, Tove Pettersen also identifies some clear thematic and methodological overlaps with Arne Johan Vetlesen’s philosophy. She explores three topics in particular where ecofeminism and care ethics may benefit from an exchange, and which is also relevant to Vetlesen’s scholarship: the relationship between reason and emotion, the relational ontology, and the emphasis on lived experience. In addition to challenging traditional conceptualizations of reality, conventional value hierarchies, and established power configurations, ecofeminism and care ethics also propose alternatives to oppressive arrangements and new ideals for the future, which are also discussed in this chapter. By integrating ecofeminism and care ethics into one conversation, Pettersen argues, these theories can enhance each other’s philosophical foundations and provide a powerful framework for analyzing the interconnection between the unjustified domination of women, other Others, and nature. They can also contribute toward kindling the radical shift in mindset and urgent action that Arne Johan Vetlesen calls for in his environmental philosophy.
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