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Complementary Theories: Feminist Approaches


Complementary Theories: Feminist Approaches Ethics Champions August 8, 2012 Carol Bayley VP Ethics and Justice Education Dignity Health What this hour is not Male ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Complementary Theories: Feminist Approaches

Complementary Theories Feminist Approaches
  • Ethics Champions
  • August 8, 2012
  • Carol Bayley
  • VP Ethics and Justice Education
  • Dignity Health

Expectation Management
  • What this hour is not
  • Male bashing ?
  • A definition/overview/defense/critique of
  • A description of the way women do bioethics
  • comprehensive
  • What this hour is
  • General effects of feminist thinking on the
    discipline of ethics
  • A look at some of the ways medicine is gendered
  • A consideration of feminist approaches to
    bioethics as corrective or complementary to
    traditional approaches

Traditional Ethical Theories
  • Consequentialist theories
  • Deontological theories
  • Virtue theories

But waitwhats a theory?
  • Systematic way of thinking
  • To account for the way things are
  • To answer questions
  • (To predict or control)
  • To determine right behavior, praiseworthiness,

Feminist approaches to ethics are not theory
  • Critique of dominant theories of the way things
  • History is written by the winners, etc.
  • Take insight from feminist theories (of politics,
    of psychology, of economics, of linguistics) and
    applies them to ethics
  • When your worldview is different, many
    differences follow

Whats wrong with using man when you mean
Some Room for Correction
  • Theories are concerned with the objective, the
    universal, not the particular or the local
  • Traditional theories govern relations between
    strangers much in medical ethics occurs between
  • highest level of functioning
  • Capacity to engage in cause and effect reasoning?
  • Capacity to love or relate empathically?

More Room for Correction
  • Consequentialismthe good act produces the
    greatest good for the greatest number (but what
    about protection of the individual?)
  • Deontologythe right thing to do is the one you
    do because it is your duty, not because of any
    consequence it produces (what about what you do
    out of love?)
  • Virtue theoryfrom the days of Aristotle, when
    the virtues were MANLY characteristics.
    (virile and virtue come from the same root!)
    public exemplars are more often men than women

Feminist Approaches in bioethics consider and
  • Experience
  • The locus of the moral act who is at the center
  • Power relations
  • Socialization into roles
  • Traditional views of moral development
  • Pathologization (is that a word?) Eg
  • Pregnancy, childbirth
  • Menopause
  • Mental illness

  • Considers how experience shapes the person
  • Views experience of the person (the patient) as
    central to the decision or the action
  • Stand (or lie) here for a while and youll see
    what Im talking about.
  • Difference (race, sex, gender, language) matters

The Locus of the Moral Act
  • Other approaches the person is an individual,
    individually responsible, discrete from others,
    autonomous (think of Kants autonomous actor or
    Mills rational calculator)
  • Feminist thought the person is constituted in a
    family, in society, in a culture, in a language.
    There is no such thing as an atomistic,
    autonomous individual free from the influences of
    culture and experience, severed from
    relationships with others. We are socially
  • language
  • face recognition
  • mirror neurons
  • Locus of the moral act matters

Power Relations
  • Power is important rank impersonates power
  • Men are more powerful than women
  • Public is more powerful than private
  • Adults are more powerful than children
  • Doctors are more powerful than nurses
  • Almost everyone is more powerful than a sick
  • Power relations matter
  • Physician-nurse relationships
  • Informed consent
  • Medical error

Socialization into gender roles
  • Boys do x girls do y
  • Men act x women act y
  • Gender stereotypes begin before birth and
    influence early
  • Kicking fetuses are boys
  • its a girl! and its a boy! evoke different
  • Boys in school are rewarded for the right answer
    girls are rewarded for neatness and diligence
  • Socialization matters

Traditional Views of Moral Development
  • Kohlberg
  • 6 stages (obedience, self interest, conformity,
    authority, social contract, universal ethical
  • Look at locus
  • Look at pinnacle
  • Gilligan
  • Critique of Kohlberg
  • Studied girls games and boys games
  • Boys want a winner and a loser girls will choose
    games with no winner and loser or change games to
    preserve the relationship
  • Locus, pinnacle

Pathology or Not?
  • Pregnancy
  • dangerous time, two patients, obstetrics (a
    surgical specialty), risks

  • OR
  • One of several normal states for a woman one
    patient with a special status, including a new
    developing person not a disability
  • Menopause
  • Medically characterized as loss
  • Contrast sperm with eggs (sperm are abundant!
    eggs are wasted)
  • Mental Illness
  • hysteria
  • Non-conformance to social roles

Catholic Moral Teaching--which is it?
  • Consequences--maximize the good
  • Deontologyby the nature of the act, certain
    things are always wrong
  • Virtue--learning, habituation, wisdom
  • Casuistryevaluate each case
  • Feminist approaches
  • Constitution of the human person in community
  • Consideration of vulnerability powerlessness
  • Moral development
  • Universal and relational
  • Individual flourishing and the common good