Obstetrics and Gynaecology Forum

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Feminist ethics of care and Ubuntu

D Hall, L du Toit, D Louw


Worldwide, training in ethics theory and practice, as an integral part of medical training, is gaining in importance. This article problematises for our South African context the Western and masculine biases that are still prevalent in most of the dominant moral theories taught, such as Kantianism, Utilitarianism and Principlism. A greater emphasis on both feminist and indigenous African moral theories is needed – not only because women and African students become better represented within the profession as elsewhere in society, but also because it is scientifically and socially called for. In the latter regard it will be shown that feminist and African moral theories may address and help to correct the masculine and Western biases lodged within the more established moral theories normally taught in medical schools. In particular, both feminist and African moral theories emphasise relationship and community over individualism. However, a further question arises from this comparison, namely to what extent feminist and African moral thinking are compatible. By drawing out their most salient similarities, we show that there is indeed an important overlap between the two strands of thought, though we also caution against their conflation. Nevertheless, together they stand as an important corrective to still dominant Western moral theories.

Keywords: Ethics; Feminist; Care; Ubuntu

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