Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Practical Philosophy and Applied Ethics (MA)


Philosophy and Religious Studies

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Bryan Bannon

Second Advisor

Dr. Mitchell Haney

Third Advisor

Dr. Erinn Gilson

Department Chair

Dr. Hans-Herbert Koegler

College Dean

Dr. Barbara Hetrick


There are different versions of the ethical approach known as “care ethics”, making care ethics more like a cluster of approaches rather than a singular one. Hence the question is not just whether care ethics is a suitable feminist ethic, but which version(s) of care ethics feminists should endorse. Considering which versions of care ethics are capable of recommending the sort of political activism that is required for progressive political change goes some distance in answering this question. The concern about whether care ethics can recommend the political activism needed for feminist aims arises because such activism exposes those the activist has intimate relationships with to various sorts of harm.

I argue that when construed as an ethical theory that incorporates a decision procedure for generating correct conduct, care ethics recommends against the sorts of actions that are required of political activists and for the practical goals of feminists. Construed as an ethical framework that has the more modest concern of providing conceptual orientation and critical tools for interpreting and reflexively interrogating the ethical landscape, however, care ethics can overcome the challenge presented by political activism when including what Bernard Williams calls “ground projects” amongst its available tools. However, because feminist care theorists and others sympathetic with care ethics have criticized aspects of Williams’ account of ground projects, I first respond to these concerns in order to accommodate these criticisms and demonstrate that I am not importing something into care ethics as a framework that does not have a place there.