Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Sibyl Schwarzenbach

Subject Categories

Environmental Sciences | Philosophy | Psychology


care ethics, desire, emotion, environmental ethics, virtue


I investigate the phenomenon of care, provide some of the theoretical and psychological framework for the ethics of care, and apply this framework to environmental issues. The neglected dimensions of care I explore are: the emotions of care, care as a virtue, and the caring person, respectively, while constructing possible conceptions of in what each dimension consists. I argue for the necessity of sympathy and concern within the ethics of care, while arguing against the necessity of empathy. Next, I explore the virtue of care as an ideal, where emotions, desires, reasoning, motive, duty and action all play an important part in determining whether or not an act is caring. Furthermore, I argue that genuine care necessarily involves a second order duty, namely, a duty to want to perform one's caring duties; this second order duty elucidates in part the theoretical distinction between the ethics of care and other ethics. The caring person, I argue, is autonomous and yet, embedded in relations. I employ a conception of Aristotelian friendship as a model for this account. In addition, I argue for a deflationary conception of autonomy to alleviate the tension feminists face when attempting to promote autonomy, while recognizing the grip of oppression. Finally, I utilize these refinements to care ethics (in terms of the emotions, the virtue of care, and the caring person), in an attempt to resolve environmental dilemmas. Utilizing a care-based ethic, I argue, provides better solutions to environmental issues than utilizing non-care based ethics.