Ethics of Care

Buddhist monk caring for a sick man

Care ethics, or “ethics of care” places significance on relationships and humans’ interdependency on each other. It could be seen as related to virtue ethics because ‘caring’ is a type of virtue, and is universal because the impulse to care is present in all human societies.

In care ethics, the ethical actor considers what option would be, not just fair, but compassionate. Ethical decisions may be made because of emotional connections or attachments to others. Given a dilemma, you may choose one option because your loved one is involved, while another option may be more reasonable to you when the people involved are strangers.

Care ethicists argue that all of us have been or will be in a position of needing care, of being vulnerable, at various points in our lives. As such, society works best when we take care of each other. Virtuous people should want to help those who need help- not just to protect human rights, but because we care.

In The Hunger Games, the main character Katniss uses care ethics. When her younger sister, Prim, is selected for the Games and faces certain death, Katniss volunteers to take Prim’s place: not because she thinks the Games are wrong (deontology), nor because she thinks she’ll win (utilitarianism) but because she loves Prim and will do anything to protect her. During the games, her feelings of care for Prim lead her to also act to protect Rue, a fellow contestant who reminds her of Prim.