Caring and being cared-for teach us how to be human.

In considering the nature and capabilities of human beings, I believe ethics and morality are the two of the most essential factors that set us apart from other forms of life. Thus, this quest for understanding of ethics and their origins is an extremely important one. Personally, I have come to some conclusions similar to those of Gilligan, Noddings, and Slote. I agree with Gilligan’s refutation of Lawrence Kohlberg’s process of moral development suggesting the insignificance of relativism and caring in ethical theory with highest value placed on justice  and law. I believe the essentiality of care in itself is something to consider. What are we if not beings capable of caring and being cared for? We’ve all seen Nat Geo or the various animated movies where animals seemingly “care” for one another. The father penguin spends the winter keeping his little unhatched egg warm as he waddles across the ice until the little guy breaks free and joins the world. The mother cat nurses its young. Clown fish, dogs, birds, lions, bears, kangaroos, wolves; the list goes on and on with a cheesy heart-warming Disney movie to accompany it. They travel in packs, hunt together, and fend for each other. All of these things are examples of how they are capable of defending, protecting, and providing for one another. Human care, I believe extends beyond simply the well-being and livelihood of another individual. Father penguin doesn’t discipline baby penguin for not playing nice on the ice playground. A kangaroo isn’t concerned with the happiness of another kangaroo. Mother cat doesn’t wait up for baby cat to come home because she simply could not sleep, consumed with anxiety. Teenage lion doesn’t hold back the mane of her friend after a bad night out. I know these are silly and somewhat incongruent examples, but it’s evident that as human beings we place a great deal of importance on caring without recognizing how it affects our moral deliberation. We don’t do any of these things as human beings because they’re morally right or because they point us toward an ethical ideal, I believe, but because we care. We care about an individual’s happiness, their contentment, their health, the way they feel, their education, their formation as human beings, and if they feel cared-for. If caring impacts our decision-making on a very personal, daily level, how could we dismiss it as part of the origins of our ethics? I don’t believe we can. I think recognition and value of care ethics could bring about momentous progress as human beings as it calls for empathy and compassion at its very core, as Slote suggests.
Caring and being cared-for teach us how to be human.


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