Applying Care Ethics to Business

Volume 34 of the series Issues in Business Ethics pp 73-89


Towards a Caring Economy

  • Dimitria Electra GatziaAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, The University of Akron Wayne College Email author 

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The predominant economic theory in the United States and most of the developed world emphasizes competitive relations among individuals or institutions. These relations are often justified by traditional moral concepts such as justice, equality, rights, etc. The ethics of care, on the other hand, emphasizes personal relationships among individuals in their communities and takes interdependence as a necessary condition for achieving individual interests. Prima facie, the ethics of care seems to be, at best, irrelevant and, at worse, inconsistent with this economic theory. I argue that the claim that the ethics of care is irrelevant is misguided. The claim that it is inconsistent with the predominant economic theory, on the other hand, seems correct. This, however, need not be viewed as a flaw of the ethics of care since, I contend, it is more plausibly construed as a flaw of the predominant economic system. The ethics of care is relevant to economic theory in two ways. Firstly, it is relevant in settling disputes within the preferred economic theory. The ethics of care places primary importance on the interests of the individuals who are affected the most by such arrangements. Secondly, it is relevant in evaluating competing economic theories. The ethics of care can ensure that an economic theory creates a system that will positively affect the individuals and their societies by assigning primary roles to them. The relevancy of the ethics of care further suggests that any inconsistency between it and an economic system should count against the economic system. An economic theory, if it is to be justified, must be conducive to the welfare of the individuals in their communities. The ethics of care can help us determine whether an economic theory can be justified.


Economics Social welfare Gross domestic product Neo-liberalism