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The Ethics of Vital Relationality: Care Ethics, Confucian Role Ethics, and the Challenge to Modern Moral Philosophy

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Title:The Ethics of Vital Relationality: Care Ethics, Confucian Role Ethics, and the Challenge to Modern Moral Philosophy
Authors:Sullivan, Ian
Date Issued:May 2016
Publisher:[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2016]
Abstract:Contemporary ethics focuses on practical and theoretical problems that spring from modern moral
philosophy’s reliance on an independent, rational, self-interested individual. These problems range
from the questionable primacy of rationality and impartiality in ethical discourse to the marginalization of non-Western cultures and the devaluation of traditional “women’s work” in practice. However, most of these contemporary projects remain committed to either an individualist
ontology or an individualist discourse. This dissertation sets out to correct these trends through the positive construction of an ethics of vital relationality drawn from Confucian and care ethics. The starting point of this project is the vitally relational person as opposed to the discrete, rational individual. Vital relations are constitutive interdependent relations of trust and mutual concern that persons depend on for survival, a sense of self, and ultimately flourishing. When this vitally relational notion of persons is taken seriously, it requires a refocusing of our ethics to include the relational matrices out of which persons emerge. The foregrounding of relations entails the cultivation of emotional intelligence, empathic imagination, and a relational virtuosity in responding to the always changing and complex moral world in which we find ourselves. With this necessity for greater moral sensitivity to interpersonal relations comes a parallel necessity for a political consciousness of cultural norms and systemic social issues. When the vitally relational perspective is adopted, there is no strict distinction between our ethical and our political lives. This dissertation concludes with the initial development of a politics of vital relationality.
Description:Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2016.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Philosophy

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