Care and Justice: The Perspective of the Passions

  • Elena Pulcini
Part of the Studies in Global Justice book series (JUST, volume 11)


Part IV develops a topic only hinted at in the previous chapters (see Part III, Chap. 7): the relationship between care and justice. An inescapable topic, not just because the reflection on care came about as a critique of the liberal justice theories (Rawls), but also because recently the problem of social justice has forcefully emerged in some social movements in the global scenario (from the ‘Arab Spring’ to the indignados). The women care theorists (from Gilligan to Kittay) propose integrating the paradigm of justice, based on the parameters of an abstract individualism and the subjects’ rationality, independence and equality, with the paradigm of care, based on the values of concreteness, affectivity, interdependence and relationality. This proposal to integrate the two, which one can agree with in general, however risks reproposing and legitimizing a purely formal idea of justice: namely, of neglecting the problem of the motivations that are at the basis of the demand for justice. The thesis is proposed that justice also presupposes sentiments and passions (such as compassion, as Nussbaum suggests, and indignation), which are not exclusive to care or the ethics of care. To stress this aspect is to start from the concrete complaints of individuals and groups against injustice; that is, it is to renounce the perfect model of justice and start from injustice, or rather from the reality of injustice (Sen, Renault). If we are to reflect on the passions first of all we can recognize the different nature of the affective motivations at the basis of the demand for justice and distinguish between legitimate complaints and illegitimate claims (as appears clear in the exemplary distinction between indignation and envy). In second place, we can better understand the motivations presiding over care (such as love), so as to avert the vision of care as pure altruism and assistance. Care of the world presupposes integrating the equivalent logic of justice with the asymmetric logic of care.


Moral Theory Liberal Theory Capability Approach Affective Dimension Moral Emotion 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di FilosofiaUniversita’ Degli Studi Di FirenzeFirenze, FlorenceItaly

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