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Moral Obligation, Disordered Care: The Ethics of Caregiving in Margaret Atwood's Moral Disorder

Moral Obligation, Disordered Care: The Ethics of Caregiving in Margaret Atwood's Moral Disorder AMELIA DEFALCO ne of the central concerns of ethics is what to do with, or about, another person's suffering. What is one's obligation to other people, friends, family, strangers? And what is one's obligation to oneself? Ethical commitment can prove to be a high-wire act, a struggle to balance distance and presence, evaluation and interaction, abstraction and action, the needs of others and of the self. Practical ethics, what Derek Attridge categorizes as "morality" (28), requires that the self be, as philosopher James Mensch explains, "able to distance itself from itself, but not to the point that it uncouples the world in which it acts from that in which it knows" (12). Responding to the other is an ethical act at the heart of the philosophy of care. Questions regarding who should give and receive care and, even more fundamentally, what exactly the giving and receiving of care means are inquiries with both ethical and ontological implications. The larger issues of ethics and moral philosophy are brought into focus by care philosophy, which draws principles and theoretical abstractions into the everyday world of dependency, responsibility, and work. Margaret Atwood's 2006 collection of connected stories, Moral Disorder, grapples with http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Contemporary Literature University of Wisconsin Press

Moral Obligation, Disordered Care: The Ethics of Caregiving in Margaret Atwood's Moral Disorder

Contemporary Literature , Volume 52 (2) – Sep 4, 2011

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University of Wisconsin Press
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Copyright © University of Wisconsin Press
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1548-9949
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Abstract

AMELIA DEFALCO ne of the central concerns of ethics is what to do with, or about, another person's suffering. What is one's obligation to other people, friends, family, strangers? And what is one's obligation to oneself? Ethical commitment can prove to be a high-wire act, a struggle to balance distance and presence, evaluation and interaction, abstraction and action, the needs of others and of the self. Practical ethics, what Derek Attridge categorizes as "morality" (28), requires that the self be, as philosopher James Mensch explains, "able to distance itself from itself, but not to the point that it uncouples the world in which it acts from that in which it knows" (12). Responding to the other is an ethical act at the heart of the philosophy of care. Questions regarding who should give and receive care and, even more fundamentally, what exactly the giving and receiving of care means are inquiries with both ethical and ontological implications. The larger issues of ethics and moral philosophy are brought into focus by care philosophy, which draws principles and theoretical abstractions into the everyday world of dependency, responsibility, and work. Margaret Atwood's 2006 collection of connected stories, Moral Disorder, grapples with

Journal

Contemporary LiteratureUniversity of Wisconsin Press

Published: Sep 4, 2011

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