How has our postmodern situation changed our understanding or approach to ethics? Discuss in relation to feminism

Essay by ahmadethismaselUniversity, Bachelor'sC+, November 2004

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How has our postmodern situation changed our understanding or approach to ethics?

Discuss in relation to feminism.

Feminists have over time developed a wide variety of approaches to ethics, including those labelled "feminine," "maternal," and "lesbian." Each of these approaches highlights the differences between men and women's situations. Together the overall aim of all feminist approaches to ethics, irrespective of their specific labels, is to create gender-equal ethics, a moral theory that generates non-sexist moral principles, policies, and practices. This essay will attempt to discuss aspects of our present postmodern situation and the significant part they have played in changing both our understanding and approach to feminism. The dramatic changes in our overall approach to ethics, especially concerning Christian ethics have mostly come in the last hundred years.

Feminist approaches to ethics are not contemporary developments. A variety of eighteenth and nineteenth-century thinkers like Mary Wollstonecraft, John Stuart Mill, Catherine Beecher, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton all discussed "women's morality.

Mary Wollstonecraft wrote the first feminist document A Vindication of the Rights of Women in 1782. She believed that women and men's moralities are fundamentally the same. She denied that women are by nature more pleasure seeking than men. She believed that if men were confined to the same cages women find themselves locked in, they would develop the same kind of 'weak' characters women develop. Denied the chance to develop their rational powers, to become moral persons who have concerns beyond their own physical and psychological pleasure, men as well as women would become overly "emotional," a condition Wollstonecraft associated with hypersensitivity, extreme narcissism, and excessive self indulgence.

Society taught men morals, it taught women manners. More specifically, society encouraged women to harbour traits like "cunning," "vanity," and "immaturity". Even worse, society twisted what could be woman's...