12: Individuality & Care



Key Terms

Bad Faith
Care Ethics
Universal Caring

  • Read and analyze descriptions of philosophical thought
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the arguments in favor of and opposing contemporary ethical theories.
  • Demonstrate an ability to discuss and reflect upon the application of the course material to various aspects of life.
  • Evaluate the personal and social responsibilities of living in a diverse world.

I. Existentialist Ethics



When we say that man chooses his own self, we mean that every one of us does likewise; but we also mean by that in making this choice he also chooses all men. In fact, in creating the man that we want to be, there is not a single one of our acts which does not at the same time create an image of man as we think he ought to be

  • A. Basic Argument
    • Concern is personal and individualized
    • Not who is a virtuous person? Not what is my moral duty? Not how should I apply the principle of utility?
    • But How do I live my life authentically? How can I be significant? How can my life have meaning?
  • B. Kierkegaard
    • The Crowd is Untruth
    • Truth and authenticity are the highest pursuits
    • The greatest threat to this is conformity with the crowd
    • Conformity to the crowd is inauthentic and immoral
    • The Three Stages to becoming an authentic individual
      • Aesthetic Stage - hedonistic, ultimately dissatisfying
      • Ethical Stage - concerned with morality, ultimately dissatisfying
      • Religious Stage - relationship between individual and divine
  • C. Nietzsche
    • Life is governed by a Will to Power
    • Traditional values of compassion and pity are part of a slave morality designed to suppress the powerful
    • The Übermensch sees through this falseness, creates his own values and imposes them upon others
    • Jesus is the supreme example of the übermensch
    • Modern thinking has removed our need of God - “God is dead.”
    • Thus, the übermensch is necessary to lead humanity in His absence
  • D. Sartre
    • Becoming an authentic individual is the ethical ideal we pursue
    • We depend only on ourselves to determine right choices
    • No absolute ethical code, no divine rule
    • Accepting one’s responsibility for ultimate choice means one understands it takes place in a social context
    • Acknowledges the moral responsibility to humanity
    • Choosing to live a certain way implies consent for others to do the same
    • Ethics are not our obligation to follow, but our obligation to create
    • Acting in Bad Faith
      • Not everyone desires this responsibility
      • Those that hide from their freedom and responsibility are living inauthentically and act in Bad Faith
      • They try to surrender their freedom to outside forces
      • Lack courage to create themselves
  • E. Camus
    • We live an absurd existence in a universe devoid of intrinsic meaning
    • Our choices are without purpose
    • Our highest goal is to create meaning for our lives
    • We do this through critical reflection and courageously free choices
    • The Myth of Sisyphus illustrates this

II. Feminism and Care Ethics

  • A. Feminism
    • Initially concerned with politics
    • Women’s Suffrage
    • Moved into social and cultural inequality
    • Equal pay for equal work became important in the mid 20th century (LINK)
    • Concern for all women, not just some (LINK)
  • B. Care Ethics
    • Considers the needs and interests of others to be the primary focus of moral reasoning
    • Based on the works of philosopher Nel Noddings 
    • Morality is rooted in natural caring
    • Mental and emotional empathy
    • Consider the other person’s reality to be real to you
    • Experience the act of caring - a feeling
    • Perform a caring response - action
    • Move beyond natural caring (how we feel about people we are close with) to ethical caring (about others we are not close with)
    • This is not the same as universal caring, which Noddings says is an empty concept
    • Objections to Care Ethics
      • Ambiguous
      • Some people never develop empathy

Logic Week 12: Bandwagoning and Ad Hominem Attack