The Importance of Personal Relationships in Kantian Moral Theory: A Reply to Care Ethics




Care ethicists have long insisted that Kantian moral theory fails to capture the partiality that ought to be present in our personal relationships. In her most recent book, Virginia Held claims that, unlike impartial moral theories, care ethics guides us in how we should act toward friends and family. Because these actions are performed out of care, they have moral value for a care ethicist. The same actions, Held claims, would not have moral worth for a Kantian because of the requirement of impartiality. Although Kantian moral theory is an impartial theory, I argue that the categorical imperative in the Formulation of Humanity as an End and the duty of respect require that we give special treatment to friends and family because of their relationships with us. Therefore, this treatment does have moral value for a Kantian.