Family, ethics and the

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L025-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 20, 2024, from

5. Psychological conception of families

Neither the political nor the other approaches take much thought for the complex emotions that give families their peculiar fraught unity. In most modern cultures families are supposed to begin in love, or at least the hope of love, and be sustained by the love that grows among its members. Maternal love especially – whether connected with gestation and birth – is taken to be a deep, abiding base for self-sacrificial care and forgiveness (see Feminist ethics §2); brotherly love is supposed to be a model for relationships outside the family. But these emotional stereotypes ignore the variety and complexity of maternal or sibling sentiments.

To correct such sentimental simplicities, there is a growing philosophical literature on various intimate relationships and their emotions from which to draw. And, of course, any philosophically adequate phenomenology of family feeling must draw freely and widely from the world of plays, poetry, and novels in which familial emotional ties, both preserving and abusive, are central.

Citing this article:
Ruddick, William. Psychological conception of families. Family, ethics and the, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L025-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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