Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 499–508

Love and justice’s dialectical relationship: Ricoeur’s contribution on the relationship between care and justice within care ethics

Original Contribution

DOI: 10.1007/s11019-013-9536-7

Cite this article as:
Van Stichel, E. Med Health Care and Philos (2014) 17: 499. doi:10.1007/s11019-013-9536-7


The relationship between love/care and justice was one of the key tensions from which care ethics originated; to this very day it is subject of debate between various streams of thought within care ethics. With some exceptions (e.g. Christa Schnabl) most approaches have in common the belief that care and justice are mutually exclusive concepts, or at least as so different that their application is situated on different levels. Hence, both are complementary, but distinct, so that there is no real interaction. This paper aims to investigate whether, and if so, how, a deeper understanding of Ricoeur’s thoughts on this matter enriches the relationship between care and justice with respect to care ethics. This connection suggests itself from Ricoeur’s interpretation of the relationship as a dialectical one in which the logic of superabundance (love) and the logic of equivalence (justice) meet. Care enables people to see the face and individuality of the one, ‘le chacun,’ within the anonymous structures of justice that tend to reduce all human beings to the anonymous each, ‘le on’; justice in its turn is the precondition for love to become incarnated and made real. What may this view—of care and justice standing in close connection, in which they correct and strengthen each other—add to the understanding of concrete practices of care?


Care ethics Justice Love Ricoeur 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Theology and Religious StudiesKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

Personalised recommendations