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The Maternal Factor

Two Paths to Morality

Nel Noddings (Author)

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In this provocative new book, renowned educator and philosopher Nel Noddings extends her influential work on the ethics of care toward a compelling objective—global peace and justice. She asks: If we celebrate the success of women becoming more like men in professional life, should we not simultaneously hope that men become more like women—in caring for others, rejecting violence, and valuing the work of caring both publicly and personally? Drawing on current work on evolution, and bringing concrete examples from women’s lived experience to make a strong case for her position, Noddings answers this question by locating one source of morality in maternal instinct. She traces the development of the maternal instinct to natural caring and ethical caring, offering a preliminary sketch of what a care-driven concept of justice might look like. Finally, to advance the cause of caring, peace, and women’s advancement, Noddings urges women to abandon institutional, patriarchal religion and to seek their own paths to spirituality.

1. The Evolution of Morality
2. The Caring Relation
3. Ethical Caring and Obligation
4. The Limits of Autonomy
5. Relation, Virtue, and Religion
6. Emotions and Reason
7. Needs, Wants, and Interests
8. War and Violence
9. Convergence

Nel Noddings is Lee Jacks Professor of Education Emerita at Stanford University. She is the author of many books, including Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics and Moral Education (second edition), Starting at Home: Caring and Social Policy, and Women and Evil, all from University of California Press.
“The book remains a must-read.”—Ethical Perspectives
“Noddings delves deeper into the study of care ethics, an area she pioneered, and emerges with new, sure to be controversial ideas on gender differences, moral development and caring. Anyone interested in these topics will want to read this book.”—Michael Slote, author of The Ethics of Care and Empathy

“Noddings presents us with a unique and provocative way to look at basic moral caring. This work from one of America’s most prominent intellectual figures is sure to change how we understand ethical and moral evolution.”—Jean Watson, University of Colorado Denver

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