A Care Ethical Justification for an Interest Theory of Human Rights: Thomas Randall (Western University) Abstract: Care ethics is often criticized for being incapable of outlining what responsibilities we have to persons beyond our personal relations, especially toward distant others. This criticism centres on care theorists’ claim that the concerns of morality emerge between people, generated through our relations of interdependent care. The problem is that it is difficult to see how moral duties can be applied to those with whom we do not forge a relationship. Indeed, what would prevent moral laziness vis-à-vis avoiding forging relations beyond our personal ones, even if we can mitigate the poverty and suffering of distant others? This paper responds to this criticism by demonstrating how care ethics can be conceived as a cosmopolitan theory of distributive justice. It does so through outlining a novel care ethical justification for an interest theory of human rights. Such a theory will argue that the demands of global justice include various positive actions that aim toward ensuring the conditions for good caring relations to flourish, which in turn protect and promote the vital interests of all persons. The rationale for pursuing this particular conception of care ethics as a cosmopolitan theory is to concurrently advance the sparse work on human rights currently within the care literature, systematizing the ideas of care theorists such as Daniel Engster, Virginia Held, and Fiona Robinson.
Democratic Practice, Listening and Attention: Gadamerian Reflections: Sophie Bourgault (University of Ottawa) Abstract: Ever since the 1980s, countless scholars have underscored the significance of attentiveness for a feminist ethics and politics of care. Joan Tronto (1993; 2013) regards attentiveness as one of the central moral qualities required for decent caregiving; Sandra Laugier (2009), Klaver & Baart (2011) and Marie Garrau (2014) all describe the caring subject chiefly as an attentive subject. Moreover, Yves Citton and Elisabeth Conradi (2015) have both insisted that care ethics could be summed up as a matter of attention. But if attention’s significance for care ethics/politics has been widely acknowledged, relatively little has been written about how attention can be cultivated and what role it can play exactly in democratic life. This paper proposes to approach these questions by turning to the work of Hans-Georg Gadamer. The paper shows that Gadamer’s account of dialogue, his relational ontology and his perspective on attention, listening and solidarity are of utmost pertinence for feminist care ethics and contemporary democratic theory.
To Think and Act Ecologically: The Environment, Human Animality, Nature: Didier Zúñiga (University of Victoria) Abstract: The contribution of disability studies and the ethics of care has emphasized the importance of situating human animals in relationship to particular environments that enable/disable us, include/exclude us, in a variety of ways. But most disability and care scholars focus their attention on the built environments that surround us, often neglecting the natural world. I thus attempt to push the argument and show that the existential modality of vulnerability is not a distinctive peculiarity of the human animal realm. I argue that our embodied existence places us in a shared condition of vulnerability with all forms of life on earth. This allows us to conceive of caring as an essential condition of the sustainability and well-being of social and ecological life systems. One of my goals is to challenge the purported division between the realm of human affairs and that which pertains to ecology. In order to rework our current relations to the lands and waters of the earth, we need first of all to be conscious of the imaginary that generates unsustainable patterns of exploitation, as well as the assumptions that inform and uphold it. To this end, I discuss the notion of anthropocentrism and, more precisely, the particular conception of human animality that underwrites it. Further, I engage with the debate that opposes realist/constructivist accounts of nature, and I ultimately argue that it is inadequate to look at nature through the lenses of the predatory social system that is responsible for ecological injustices in the first place.