The world would be a less interesting place if there were no relationships; everyone would be acting in their way and would hardly have anyone to consult. On the other hand, if relationships are present, people will live a happy life, assist one another and cope with the difficulties that pose as impossibilities to an individual. If people end up in successful and satisfying relationships, they have more opportunities to grow and develop both physically and emotionally. It is worth noting that a relationship can only be possible if an individual cares about other people. This paper utilized the view mentioned in the essay Ethics of Care by looking at the ideas argued and further reinforcing them by looking at five different case studies.
Analysis of the Essay
People with integrity have good relationships because human beings are social creatures. Individuals tend to live and work in groups, and the absence of relationships will make the majority of them miserable (Ethics of Care 1). People can accomplish the everyday tasks in which they engage only if a circle of friends surrounds them. Thus, most working places incorporate teamwork as a useful technique. Therefore, the secret of fulfilling the set activities and desires is to foster healthy relationships.
Good relationships are only possible when one can care about other people. The expounded meaning of fostering a relationship is caring for others. Care is a fundamental human ability to identify and respond to the needs of other people. Moreover, it is the capacity to adjust the behavior taking into consideration the good or harm it might cause to others (Ethics of Care 2). Consequently, one can deduce that relating with other people is an important aspect of life. One would then proceed to realize that relating with others comes with caring for them. Briefly, by caring for others, one assesses their actions to determine whether they will cause harm to persons to whom they relate or they will result in benefits. Therefore, for people to show care, they will need to be concerned.
Showing care to the parties in a relationship can be one of the ways of determining the right actions; it can be a measure of right or wrong. "Care as a moral perspective can be both a strong motivation for doing the right thing and can provide a basis for recognizing good actions" (Ethics of Care 2). Once individuals are in a relationship, they will want to do good to other parties of the relationship. Consequently, they can gain positive feedback from the relationship. In such a way, care will act as a means to motivate a person to do the right thing to the other party in the relationship. Moreover, it will provide a measure for determining right actions.
Care as a virtue encourages individuals to live a decent life in terms of caring and respecting others. As a virtue, care entails courage, honesty, and prudence, all of which add-on to one's emotions and motivations. Therefore, it is true that when people truly care about other people or things, they experience particular emotions and motivations (Ethics of Care, 4). Thus, when individuals see a person suffering, they tend to compassionate about it and later are motivated to help them out, which is considered caring. In addition to the traits about care, it will not be complete if the appropriate response is not arrived at. It means that, if people find that a person is suffering, their care will only be real if they act towards helping them.
Furthermore, care comes with various dimensions and now can be referred to as moral obligation. "Caring is a response to a variety of features of moral situations: need, harm, past promises, role relationships" (Ethics of Care 4). For individuals to demonstrate care, they must act in response to a need. In the everyday life, people are faced with needs a person cannot address independently. When people tend to address the needs of others, they are caring for them. Care aims at not harming an individual. When persons took offense, then the action directed to them will not be termed as care. Fulfilling the past promises means that an individual is caring. Additionally, the role one plays can dictate care. For example, the role of a teacher comes with a certain degree of expectations and actions, which, in other words, will be termed as caring ones.
Four principles or rather central ideas guide the ethics of care, including "moral attention, sympathetic understanding, relationship awareness, and harmony and accommodation" (Ethics of Care 6). To begin with, when individuals offer moral attention to a revolving situation, it means they will become aware of it and can provide some assistance or what the writer calls "sympathetic response" (Ethics of Care 6). Therefore, for persons to show care, they will need to pay moral attention towards a situation and members of the relationship group to which they belong.
Additionally, another core pillar of the ethics of care is sympathetic understanding. Care and sympathy relate to each other when observed from a wider perspective. In other words, an individual who shows sympathy will be considered caring. Furthermore, people will feel that they are cared for if they receive some form of sympathy. "When one sympathetically understands the situation, one is open to sympathizing and even identifying with the persons in the situation" (Ethics of Care 6). Relationships are important in explaining care. In this case, when people in a sympathetic way get to understand the situation of another party in a relationship, they will be showing care. Therefore, for one to show care, one should be able to understand sympathetically the situations of the friends.
For individuals to succeed in doing what they intend to do, they must have deep knowledge of the whole situation. In the case of care, which is closely concerned with relationships, for people to show care, they will need to understand the relationship they have with another party. Evident care does not presuppose the type of relationship that will be significant, but the capability of an individual to nurture the relationship, support it, and give it an environment for growth. The author says, "As caring persons think about what to do, they try not to undermine these relationships bur rather nurture and extend the relationships that are supportive of human flourishing" (Ethics of Care 10). In understanding relationships, care will be seeing if a person supports the relationship by nurturing it.
The fourth principle of the ethic of care is an accommodation and harmony. For individuals to show care to other parties in a relationship, they must be willing and ready "to accommodate the needs of all" (Ethics of Care 8). Therefore, a caring action is the one that takes into consideration the needs of others. Additionally, one must be ready to consult with other people so that they will act in harmony with the expectations and the rules of the group. Care will only be recognized if it is depicted in actions that are accommodating and do not compromise the harmony of a relationship.
Care requires that the caregiver should be a moral agent, who observes morality. Therefore, people will need to explore various moral perspectives. Moreover, a person does not need to follow ethics of care as a moral perspective to understand that there are numerous problems that arise for everybody as a caregiver (Ethics of Care 15). As caregivers, individuals can act in different ways and still end up showing acts of care rather than just subscribing to the four ethics of care. Therefore, ethics cannot be limited to the ethics of care.
Analysis of Case Studies
In case study 1 Actions Speak Louder than Words: Rebuilding Malden Mills, Feuerstein was the sole owner of Malden Mills. Unfortunately, the premises caught fire and Feuerstein lost considerably. Due to the fire, the company had to shut down the upholstery division and lay off more than 400 workers. An opposite case happened with Henry Ford. The shareholders of the company sued him after lowering the price of the car model and cited that Ford was risking their profits. Feuerstein invested much money in rebuilding and increased the wages and by the end of 2003, the company came out of bankruptcy. He later searched for a new CEO for the company and focused on profits.
According to the case study, Henry Ford lacked care for people he related with, especially the shareholders of his company, because he did not consult them before lowering the price. In the case of Feuerstein, he showed the four core ideas of ethics of care. His action of closing part of the business was due to the sympathetic understanding and the relationship awareness he had with his customers and business. Feuerstein's search for a new CEO can be explained through moral attention that he had for the company. Additionally, his actions of reviving the company from the fire scandal to the profit making organization were a measure of harmony to his business idea and accommodation of the situation.
The second case study, Charity Begins at Home: Nepotism, describes four different owners and their organizations. First, Sultan Haseem employed his relatives in a business that he was running and after ten years, he promoted them to run the finance and purchasing. Second, Wong Su Hong owns a nonprofit organization that collects leftover foods and distributes them to the homeless people. The key employees are members of his family while the rest are volunteers. Third, Camund Limited is a business based in India and has the majority of its shares owned by two families (the Sheths and the Bahais), whose members occupy the positions of directors and senior managers. Finally, Ronald Whitefoot is the CEO of a large software company and has twelve out of fifteen directors being close relatives.
The four companies described in the case study lack four core ideas of care, their operations. In particular, through their appointments, they show how they are not working towards fostering good relationships. The management of the four companies is similar in the way they employ members of their families or from selected families. They intend to strengthen the relationships with families but risk the relations with shareholders. As a result, the companies do not show care towards their shareholders because they lack moral attention, harmony, accommodation, relationship awareness, and sympathetic understanding. Therefore, their businesses are deemed to fail or perform poorly at one point.
The case study 3, Lifestyle and Your Livelihood: Getting Fired in America, states that companies in the United States can demand too much from their employees and can dictate their personal life outside work. Workers in the United States are hired "at will" (Case Study 3), which means that employees can quit their job anytime and for any reason. However, it also means that workers can be hired any time and without any reason. Therefore, most companies are indulging in what can be termed as "lifestyle discrimination" as they are reducing risky activities that will otherwise increase their costs. That is the reason they are hiring employees "at will."
From the case study, it is evident that the relationship between the United States' employers and employees has not been well developed as nobody takes care of it. Both sides of the relationship appear to be fighting for their material gain without considering another party. The employers lack three basic things that would otherwise have portrayed care to their employees, mainly moral attention, relationship awareness, and sympathetic understanding. On the other hand, their indulgence in lifestyle discrimination and a desire to control workers’ lifestyle outside the workplace lack harmony with the employment rules. Thus, such behavior makes it hard for both parties to accommodate each other and portrays the employer as one who does not care.
In the case study 5, Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, Kelvin was employed as a research assistant in a biotechnology firm. However, after his extemporary performance, he was promoted to be vice president of Research and Development. A woman in the same organization and his associate, Bridget, began making seductive moves towards Kelvin. She gave him compliments whenever they passed each other and later started to tell him about her sexual desires towards him. Kelvin feared to report the sexual harassment issue because he was only used to cases of men harassing women. He "felt that the fact that the majority of sexual harassment cases are filed against men by women, that would weaken his case" (Case Study 5). Consequently, he feared that the case would turn against him and end up destroying his job relations.
According to the case study, two types of parties are portrayed. They are Kelvin, who is caring and concerned about his image and that of his female workmate, and Bridget who is less causing and sexually harasses her workmate. From the case study, Bridget lacked four ideas of ethics of care while Kelvin possessed them. Bridget lacks moral perspectives and what she needs to do is "to subscribe to an ethic of care as a moral viewpoint" (Ethics of Care 15). As an employee, Bridget was expected to be sober enough and show moral perspectives in all her actions.
In the case study, 10, Children and Targeting: Is It Ethical?, Jennifer Smith began work in an advertising firm, and she signed up for a campaign for Puff Fluffs, a sugar cereal. Jennifer targeted American youths of between ages of six and ten to buy the cereal or to have parents purchasing it for them. With time, Jennifer's work had spread all over America. The adverts received critics, specifically from the media, saying that Jennifer should be held responsible for health defects facing American children. Jennifer's response was that America was a free country and the children could decide what to eat (Case study 10). Days later, legislation was passed that barred advertisers from targeting youths of products that would have negative health implications.
According to case study 10, Jennifer is portrayed to show less care for the American youths because she advertises products that will endanger their health. However, she is caring doing it as a means of earning income. Moreover, no one was forced to buy, especially the American youths. The American media and the legislature showed ethics of care by being concerned about their relationship with American youths. They condemned Jennifer's advert and passed a law to regulate adverts targeting the youths. The two; American media and legislature, showed moral attention, their relationship awareness, and sympathetic understanding of the condition of American youths.
Concisely, care is closely associated with relationships. For a relationship to be effective, all the parties will need to be caring about one another. The care is inscribed in four fundamental ethics of care, including harmony and accommodation, relationship awareness, moral attention, and sympathetic understanding. Therefore, care can only be depicted in the nature of relationships.
- Ethics of Care
- Case Study 1 - Actions Speaks Louder Than Words: Rebuilding Malden Mills
- Case Study 2 - Charity Begins at Home: Nepotism
- Case Study 3 - Lifestyle and your Livelihood: Getting Fired in America by
- Case Study 5 - Sexual Harassment in the Workplace by Darci Doll
- Case Study 10 - Children and Targeting: is it Ethical? By Brennan Jacoby
General Assessment of the Paper
Through writing this paper, I have learned that care is an important aspect in human life. I have come to realize that care can only be manifested through relationships. The type and nature of relationships will determine the type of care. Additionally, care needs to be given on the basis of ethics. The care shows sympathy, it tries to understand the situations of another person, and accommodates. I have learned that care is necessary in every day’s life as it places a person at a better place to relate with others, which is in line with human nature.