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Feminist ethics

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L026-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 14, 2024, from

Article Summary

Critics greet feminist ethics with suspicion, alleging that it is biased towards the interests of women. Feminist ethicists reply that it is traditional ethics which is biased. As they see it, for centuries traditional ethicists claimed to speak for all of humanity, when they were speaking only or primarily for men, and the most privileged of men at that. In contrast, although feminist ethicists openly admit that they proceed from the perspective of women’s experience, their paramount goal is simply to reconstruct traditional ethics so that it becomes more universal and objective by including women’s as well as men’s moral voices.

Far from being monolithic, feminist ethics encompasses a wide variety of woman-centred approaches to the moral life. Feminine approaches to ethics, with their stress on personal relationships and an ethics of care, put a premium on the value of human connection. Maternal approaches focus on one relationship in particular, that between mothers and children, as the paradigm for moral interaction. Lesbian approaches stress choice rather than duty, aiming to define the conditions in which lesbian women can flourish. Finally, specifically feminist approaches to ethics emphasize the political task of eliminating systems and structures of male domination and female subordination in both the public and the private domains.

Citing this article:
Tong, Rosemarie. Feminist ethics, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L026-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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