Care theorists have made significant gains over the past twenty-five years in establishing caring as a viable moral and political concept. Nonetheless, the concept of caring remains underdeveloped as a basis for a moral and political philosophy, and there is no fully developed account of our moral obligation to care. This article advances thinking about caring by developing a definition of caring and a theory of obligation to care sufficient to ground a general moral and political philosophy.
Parenting has an ambiguous place within the liberal tradition. On the one hand, liberal theorists have traditionally portrayed it as a private activity. On the other hand, they have also acknowledged the need for some public regulation of parenting in order to protect children’s interests. Some theorists have suggested that this ambiguity within liberalism can be best resolved by implementing parental licensing plans that would limit childrearing opportunities strictly to individuals who could prove their psychological, moral, and financial competency to (...) raise children well. In this article, I critique parental licensing schemes from a liberal perspective and argue that public parenting support, including paid parenting leaves, public childcare subsidies, and the like, is more consistent with liberal values and, in fact, a necessary component of any coherent liberal theory of justice. (shrink)
Political theorists generally defend the moral importance of health care by appealing to its purported importance in promoting good health and saving lives. Recent research on the social determinants of health demonstrates, however, that health care actually does relatively little to promote good health or save lives in comparison with other social and environmental factors. This article assesses the implications of the social determinants of health literature for existing theories of health care justice, and outlines a new approach that can (...) justify publicly subsidized comprehensive health care despite its limited contribution to good health. Even if health care plays a relatively limited role in promoting good health, it remains morally important because of the care it provides to individuals. As such, it can be justified in terms of care ethics. When health care is justified primarily in terms of care rather than health, however, the goals of a just health-care system shift. The measure of a just health-care system is no longer strictly its ability to generate good health outcomes but also its ability to provide individuals with accessible, good quality daily care. This different focus has important consequences for the way we think about the institutions of a just health-care system as well as for the delivery and allocation of medical goods and services. (shrink)
: Care theorists have made significant gains over the past twenty-five years in establishing caring as a viable moral and political concept. Nonetheless, the concept of caring remains underdeveloped as a basis for a moral and political philosophy, and there is no fully developed account of our moral obligation to care. This article advances thinking about caring by developing a definition of caring and a theory of obligation to care sufficient to ground a general moral and political philosophy.
Although liberal political philosophers have long recognised the tension between equal opportunity and the family, most have assumed there is little society can do to mitigate it. Brighouse and Swift argue, by contrast, that an analysis of the value of the family reveals limits on the rights of parents to benefit their children and hence points to a way to reconcile the family with equal opportunity. Their solution for resolving the tension between equal opportunity and the family, however, leads to (...) some untenable conclusions. A better solution for promoting equal opportunity in the family is to level up the opportunities that less advantaged parents have to promote the development and wellbeing of their children so that they are on par with the opportunities of the most advantaged parents. Five strategies are outlined for achieving this goal. Once society has provided all parents with real opportunities to fulfil their fiduciary duties, Brighouse and Swift's argument for limited parental partiality can be applied without contradiction. The result is an alternate solution for mitigating the conflict between equal opportunity and the family in liberal political philosophy. (shrink)
Asha Bhandary’s Freedom to Care represents an important challenge to the idea that care ethics and liberalism necessarily stand in tension, arguing instead that most of the commitments of care ethics can be integrated within a recognizably mainstream liberal contract theory. Although I am sympathetic to Bhandary’s project, I identify three ways in which it falls short: Bhandary’s thin moral premises fail to support decent care for all; her survival baseline principle of care does not support some important forms of (...) care; and her proceduralist approach offers little alternative other than coercion for assuring sufficient care for all. I argue a thicker set of moral assumptions based on the importance of decent care for all are necessary for reconciling liberalism and care ethics on more equal terms. (shrink)
Justice, Care, and the Welfare State explores contemporary welfare state reform from a moral and philosophical perspective. It offers detailed arguments about the nature of justice in the areas of family policy, education, health care, old age pensions and long-term care, disability, and employment and poverty support. Challenging the ideal nature of much contemporary political philosophy, Engster applies political philosophy to public policy issues in order to generate concrete policy recommendations for better supporting social justice.
Most contemporary justice theories focus on the basic structure of society but pay relatively little attention to the implementation of laws and policies at the street-level. As agents of the basic structure, social caseworkers and street-level bureaucrats are, however, potentially in a unique position in the fight to deliver justice at the coalface of social inequality. Introducing a paradigm of ‘Justice as Action’, we explore how street-level bureaucrats can work with both citizen-clients and, indeed, political philosophers, to promote justice. Although (...) the Justice as Action paradigm does not involve entirely abandoning ideal justice theories, we show how it provides a potential method for paying heed to the objections of political realists about the need to direct attention to the concerns of people ‘now and around here’ if we are to produce both meaningful political theory and meaningful political action. Our conclusion is that it is essential for front-line workers and street-level bureaucrats and political theorists to have more conversations with one another than they currently do in order to advance their shared cause. (shrink)