Moral Understandings: A Feminist Study in Ethics

Moral Understandings: A Feminist Study in Ethics



This is a revised edition of Walker's well-known book in feminist ethics first published in 1997. Walker's book proposes a view of morality and an approach to ethical theory which uses the critical insights of feminism and race theory to rethink the epistemological and moral position of the ethical theorist, and how moral theory is inescapably shaped by culture and history. The main gist of her book is that morality is embodied in "practices of responsibility" that express our identities, values, and connections to others in socially patterned ways. Thus ethical theory needs to be empirically informed and politically critical to avoid reiterating forms of socially entrenched bias. Responsible ethical theory should reveal and question the moral significance of social differences. The book engages with, and challenges, the work of contemporary analytic philosophers in ethics.

Moral Understandings has been influential in reaching a global audience in ethics and feminist philosophy, as well as in tangential fields like nursing ethics; research ethics; disability ethics; environmental ethics, and social and political theory. This revised edition contains a new preface, a substantive postscript to Chapter 1 about "the subject of moral philosophy"; the addition of a new chapter on the importance of emotion in practices of responsibility; and the addition of an afterword, which responds to critics of the book.



Publication Date



Oxford University Press


New York




Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition

Preface the First edition

Part One. The Mis-en-scene: Moral Philosophy Now

1. The Subject of Moral Philosophy, with Postscript, 2007

2. Where Do Moral Theories Come From? Henry Sidgwick and Twentieth Century Ethics

Part Two. Clearer Views: An Expressive-Collaborative Model

3. Authority and Transparency; The Examples of Feminist Skepticism

4. Charting Responsibilities: From Established Coordinates to Terra Incognita

Part Three. Self- (and Other) Portraits: Who Are We, and How Do We Know?

5. Picking Up Pieces: Lives, Stories and Integrity

6. Career Selves: Plans, Projects, and Plots in "Whole Life ethics"

7. Made A Slave, Born a Woman: Knowing Others' Places

8. Unnecessary Identities: Representational Practices and Moral Recognition

Part Four: Testing Sight Lines

9. The Politics of Transparency and the Moral Work of Truth

10. Peripheral Visions, Critical Practice

Epilogue: Some Questions About Moral Understandings



Moral Understandings: A Feminist Study in Ethics