Gilligan on Care Vs. Justice

            In "Moral Orientation and Moral Development" Carol Gilligan argues that previous moral theorists (both philosophers and psychologists) have been wrong to assume that there is one perspective which constitutes "the moral point of view."  Rather, there are at least two moral perspectives or orientations people can have towards a situation, and each perspective has something to contribute to our understanding of morality.  This chart lists a series of questions and answers that bring out various elements of the contrast she draws between the "justice perspective" and the "care perspective." 



Justice perspective

Care perspective



What sort of situation is a reason for moral concern?




What sort of wrongdoing should we be on the lookout for?

Oppression or exploitation

Abandonment, indifference


What is the fundamental moral injunction (commandment)?

Don't be unfair.

Don't turn away from someone in need.


What are good metaphors for human relationships?

Hierarchy vs. balance  (the scales of justice)

Network, web


How should we conceive of the self as a moral agent?

As an individual judging conflicting claims

As someone imbedded in relationships and responding to the needs of particular others


What is the basic moral question we need to ask?

What is just?

How should I respond?


What sort of person is the ideal moral thinker or perceiver?

An impartial judge

A concerned friend or parent


What is the error most characteristic of each perspective?

Egocentrism, false objectivity

'Co-dependence', lack of autonomy


What is the opposite of 'dependence'?

Independence (positive)

Isolation (negative)


How might we conceptualize a disagreement?

In terms of rights (e.g., to one’s own opinion) and respect

In terms of understanding and being heard so as to maintain connection


How should we construe the issue of abortion?

As a conflict of rights or in terms of respect for human life

As a question about whether or not it is a caring or responsible act to continue the connection between the pregnant woman and her fetus


What is the best hope for resolving conflict and promoting human survival?

Formal agreement  (treaties, laws, contracts)

Human connection