Update: Sidepoint on Goldberg Interview

Not related to anything Jonah said, but to correct something stated by Helen Reynolds. (The interview is here).

Jonah is describing the “liberal fascist” state as one that emphasizes nurturing the individual, caring for them, etc. (“Nanny-ing” in the parlance). Reynolds says that this reminds her of Carol Gilligan and her thesis that women were more about nurturing, compassion, and collective care than individual rights. This idea (which by the way is an incorrect reading of Gilligan, more on that in a sec) offended Mrs. Reynolds because she cares deeply about individual rights. And she’s a woman. Ergo, Gilligan is wrong. [Not the air-tightest of logic].

Gilligan most famously argued, based on her research, for a feminine-version of her teacher Lawrence Kohlberg’s theory of moral development. What Gilligan said was that women tended to emphasize relationship, care, etc. when making moral determinations. And that those decisions fell into a developmental order–i.e. there were better (more developed) and worse (less developed) feminine-care levels of morality.

But that in no way suggests women do not appreciate the necessity of individual rights–nor that such was Gilligan’s argument. Presumably women are well aware that their ability to make connection and bonding is dependent upon being free citizens. Nor does it mean that justice is not important to women. Tend to, not exclusively for all women all the time.

The most obvious example where plenty of women are highly cognizant (and some politically mobilized) of individual rights concerns abortion. Often described as the right to choice or the right to ownership of her body. That’s pure individual rights/justice language–that much is clear whatever one’s personal views on the matter.

Plus no mention from Reynolds that for Gilligan there were levels of such feminine moral development. Just as for men. Only discussing men versus women neglects the differing levels, thereby cutting out (at least) half of the entire theory. A man and a woman at stage four, though the man likely (though not automatically) tends to emphasize justice/rights in his moral decision making is much closer to a stage four woman–who is making largely the same determinations though in a different way with different emphasis (again likely to…)–then a stage four man is like a stage 2 man.

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Published in: on December 28, 2007 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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