Gilligan believes that the source of the differences in the psychological development of men and women are the peculiarities of the process of formation of sexual identity in children. Gilligan agrees with Freud, when he relates the undoubted intellectual inferiority of the majority of women with inhibition of thought, inevitably caused by sexual repression (Gilligan 68). And it is liberation from dependence allows women to make judgments in their own voice, solving the problem, affecting both her and the other, and it allows the researcher basing on these judgments to bring a unique sequence of moral development through the morality of care.
Carol Gilligan’s ideas were mainly seen as a challenge to the existing psychological theories of moral development, as well as to the notion of morality conventional for the common consciousness and ethics. This gave rise to serious debates between the proponents of Gilligan and her opponents, which were centered on the understanding of the status of the “ethics of care”ť. Gilligan’s main opponent was her former teacher, American psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg, who rationalized his critique from the perspective of the universal morality of justice, as in contrast to the morality of justice, ethics of care was the morality of individual relations, while the morality of justice was based on the recognition of the equality of all people’s rights.
Thus, while the demands of the morality of justice are universal, impartial, and abstract, and it is first of all rational abilities that are needed for their implementation; while the demands of the morality of care unique, biased, and concrete; and their implementation is impossible without the ability for emotional empathy. The recognition of qualitative distinctiveness of the ethics of care and its unique role in human life leads to the assertion that the ethics of care may be rationalized only on its own basis, and then the justification of the ethics of care becomes an important task for moral philosophy and social psychology.
Gilligan, Carol. In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development (29th ed.). Harvard University Press, 1993. Print.
Nicholson, Linda. The Second Wave: A Reader in Feminist Theory. Routledge, 1997. Print.