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The Heart of JusticeCare ethics and Political Theory$
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Daniel Engster

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199214358

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199214358.001.0001

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The Nature of Caring and the Obligation to Care

The Nature of Caring and the Obligation to Care

(p.21) 1 The Nature of Caring and the Obligation to Care
The Heart of Justice

Daniel Engster (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Caring is usually defined either too narrowly or too broadly to support a moral and political theory. This chapter outlines a definition of caring that is better suited for guiding the development of a moral and political theory. Caring is defined as a practice encompassing everything we do directly to help individuals satisfy their basic biological needs, develop or maintain their basic capabilities, and avoid or alleviate pain and suffering. The chapter further outlines a theory of obligation for caring, arguing that we all have obligations to care for others in need because we all have made claims upon others to care for us when in need. The last part of the chapter discusses the rightful distribution of our caring obligations, arguing that we might justifiably show partiality in caring for ourselves and our loved ones but ultimately have obligations to care for all individuals in need when we are capable of doing so.

Keywords:   care ethics, claim rights, dependency, Gewirth, moral obligation, moral partiality, needs, practice of caring

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