The Ethics of Care and Empathy * By M. SLOTE [Book Review]

Analysis 69 (1):190-192 (2009)
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Most moral philosophers who have recently expressed sympathy with feminist or ‘care-based’ perspectives on ethical theory have thought that such perspectives can make valuable contributions to more comprehensive ethical theories. Few have thought that an ethics of care can offer a complete normative theory. However, Michael Slote is one of the ambitious few. In his recent book, The Ethics of Care and Empathy, he seeks to show that a care-based perspective can do a lot of service in first-order moral and political theory as well as in metaethics. Here is a quick overview of the book's content: In Chapter 1, Slote explicates the notion of empathy that is central in his ethics of care, which he locates within the sentimentalist paradigm, stemming from philosophers such as Hume and Hutcheson. Slote's account of empathy and moral development draws substantially on work by the psychologist Martin Hoffman. Chapter 2 discusses care ethics and our obligation to help others, including both the near and the distant needy. Chapter 3 aims to show how the notion of empathy can further the case for deontology in ethics. Chapters 4 through 6 discuss the relation of care ethics to pivotal issues in political philosophy, such as autonomy, liberalism, social justice and rights. Slote maintains that autonomy …



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Michael Slote
University of Miami

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