Lesson 5: Friendship

“Different kinds of relationships have been differently distributed among women and men in patriarchal society: a larger share of the responsibilities of certain personal and informal relationships to women, a larger share of the responsibilities of formal and impersonal relationships defined by social institutions to men. It is plausible that a result has been the creation of a significant difference in ethical orientation. Putting it this way opens better to philosophical inquiry the questions of how good these relationships have been, what their virtues and vices are, their major values, their roles in good life, in a good society. It allows us for example to explore the place of fairness in friendship and to note its absence as a flaw.”

Card, Claudia, “A Feminist View of Ethics” from Identity, Character and Morality by Owen Flanagan and Amelie Rorty (MIT Press, 1990).

Men and women form relationships differently in society. Women tend to have a larger role in close relationships where personal feelings are dominant, and men tend to have a larger role in relationships that don’t involve personal feelings. A result of these different relationships formed between men and women are a difference in ethics, which results in their behavior. We are able to look at the differences in these relationships and how they effect roles in society.

The definition of patriarchy is a social system in which males are the primary authority figures central to social organization, occupying roles of political leadership, moral authority, and control of property, and where fathers hold authority over women and children. I believe that the paragraph I chose is somewhat true, but times have definitely changed when it comes to males being the primary authority figures. Women have become more independent and career driven. I do believe that women have more personal relationships than men do. I think that women are more known for showing and sharing their feelings. I’m not saying that men don’t show feelings but women are more emotional and sympathetic than men usually are.

1. What is your understanding of ethics of justice and ethics of care?   Are they opposite or complementary?  Are they useful in understanding what we (should) believe and how we (should) act?

In the reading, it is said that boys and men come to respect law more than girls and women do. Laws are what the ethics of justice are made of. The way it is written makes me think that men show more ethics of justice and women show more ethics of care. The ethics of justice are more associated with a persons moral duty and ethics of care are more associated with feelings and emotions. I believe that they are complementary because in order to perform a moral duty to the fullest extent, a person should have positive emotions and feelings about the duty. I think they are both very useful in how we should act and behave.

2.  What are qualities of friendship that might help us formulate more general ethical considerations?

Fairness and caring are two very important qualities of friendship that were discussed in the reading. Fairness means that both people in the friendship should put forth an equal amount of effort in the relationship. That means being there for each other and supporting one another no matter what. If one person in a friendship makes more effort to be there than the other person, it is not fair. I think fairness goes hand-in-hand with caring. I believe that being fair and caring for other people also means having respect for others, which is a huge ethical principle.

3. What is your definition of empathy and can you think of a situation in which you felt empathy towards someone else?  What can we learn from it and how could it apply to other, more general ethical situations?

My definition of empathy is caring about and understanding other peoples feelings. Whenever my close friends tell me about a hard situation they’re in or when their feelings are hurt, I try my best to give them advise and/or cheer them up. The most important part of empathy is being able to really listen to someone when they’re talking to you.

4.  Do you believe that too much emphasis on personal caring relationships will encourage many people to become morally apathetic towards larger ethical issues? Why or why not?

I don’t believe that emphasis on personal caring relationships will encourage people to become morally apathetic towards larger ethical issues. Just because a person has multiple caring relationships that they put a lot of effort into, doesn’t mean that person will not care about large ethical issues. I think that the more personal caring relationships a person has, the more likely they will engage in other ethical issues. If a person isn’t caring, they won’t worry about helping others. They will only worry about themselves.

MULTI-MEDIA:  Include a song or video (from YouTube) that represents values of friendship and love.

I chose the song ‘I’ll Stand By You’ by The Pretenders because it’s about being there no matter what, through the good and bad, which friendship is all about.


2 thoughts on “Lesson 5: Friendship

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