A comparison between the ethics of justice and the ethics of care
The parameters of the problem within which the principal aim of the present article will be addressed can be described as follows. When making ethical decisions there are different perspectives that health care professionals may use. This may lead to conflict and insufficient co-operation between the members of the health team. Two of these perspectives are the ethics of justice and the ethics of care. The ethics of justice constitutes an ethical perspective in terms of which ethical decisions are made on the basis of universal principles and rules, and in an impartial and verifiable manner with a view to ensuring the fair and equitable treatment of all people. The ethics of care, on the other hand, constitutes an ethical approach in terms of which involvement, harmonious relations and the needs of others play an important part in ethical decision-making in each ethical situation. To seek some sort of way of avoiding conflict and promoting a mutual understanding about ethical decisions in the health team, there is a need to examine the ethics of justice and ethics of care. In order to understand the ethics of justice and ethics of care, the purpose of this article is to compare the two ethical perspectives. It is argued that the ethics of justice and the ethics of care represent opposite poles. If the members of the health team were to use only one of these two perspectives in their ethical decision-making, certain ethical dilemmas would almost certainly remain unresolved. Both the fair and equitable treatment of all people (from the ethics of justice) and the holistic, contextual and need-centred nature of such treatment (from the ethics of care), ought therefore to be retained in the integrated application of the ethics of justice and the ethics of care.