Highest Good

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In this selection of The Ethics of Care, Virginia Held discusses the ethics of care and its difference from the traditional moral theories. Held’s idea of the highest good has many criteria that will make it the best. Human interdependence, the value of emotion, moral obligations in particular relationships, private and public traditions, and relationships are several of Held’s criteria for something to be the highest good. I believe all of Held’s following criteria are necessary for someone to reach the highest good.

Held believes that in order for something to be the highest good, it must be based on a moral realistic account of human persons. She points out that a person should depend on one another rather than focus on some abstract idea of independence as a purely rational individual. “The ethics of care recognizes that human beings are dependent for many years of their lives, that the moral claim of those dependent on us for the care they need is pressing, and that there are highly important moral aspects in developing the relations of caring that enable human beings to live and progress.” (Held, 425) Held finds that an important characteristic of the highest good is the care of the young, old, disabled, and sick. In order to do this, human interdependence is a must.

Another realistic account of human persons would be emotion over reason. “The ethics of care values emotion rather than rejects it at all.” (Held, 425) Held emphasizes her beliefs on emotion and reasoning throughout the text. Sympathy, empathy, sensitivity, and responsiveness are what Held believes as grown and developed. As we age and view different things throughout our lives, our feelings are reflected on and educated. Held brings up the point that anger may contribute to the moral wrong; however, raw emotion cannot be the guide to morality.

Held’s ethics of care are built on the moral obligations found in particular relationships. She does not agree with the view of...
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