Interview in June 2012
1. Where are you working at this moment?
I work at Metropolitan State University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, USA. My title is Associate Vice President of Academic Centers and Programs and I am a Professor of Philosophy and Women’s Studies.
2. Can you tell us about your research and its relation to the ethics of care?
My work with care has taken on three directions:
- Exploring the embodied nature of caring.
- Framing care as a performative endeavor.
- Applied aspects of care.
In Embodied Care (University of Illinois Press, 2004), I argued that human bodies facilitate caring and that our bodies contain prenoetic caring knowledge. My most recent work, which builds on the notion of embodied care, frames care as performative and thus views care as more than an ethical theory but an ontological and epistemological theory as well. Finally, an ongoing stream of my work has been to apply care theory to social and political policies and practices as in the anthologies, Socializing Care (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), Feminism and Hospitality (Lexington Books, 2010), and Applying Care to Business Ethics (Springer, 2011)
3. How did you get involved into the ethics of care?
I was first exposed to the theories during the course of study leading to my first Ph.D. in Religion and Social Ethics (University of Southern California, 1994) and then the focus of my second Ph.D. in Philosophy was developing the notion of embodied care. If find care theory a compelling way to understand identity, knowledge creation, as well as morality.
4. How would you define ethics of care?
I prefer to think of “care theory” rather than the ethics of care. The reason is that I find care does a different kind of work than other forms of ethics. Rather than simply answering the question, “what is the right thing to do?”, care addresses what I know and who I am as well as how to act toward one another. I view care as possessing elements of postmodernism in that it defies neat categories of understanding.
Care is fundamentally, an embodied, performative, and imaginative endeavor that has significant implications for what we know, who we are, and the nature of the good.
5. What is the most important thing you learned from the ethics of care?
Ethics is more than rules, rights, or consequences. We cannot address issues of morality without integrating issues of identity and epistemology as well.
6. Whom do you consider to be your most important teacher(s) in this area?
7. What works in the ethics of care do you see as the most important?
- Dalmiya, Vrinda, “Why Should Knowers Care?” Hypatia vol. 17, no. 1 (Winter 2002)
- Noddings, Nel, The Maternal Factor: Two Paths to Morality (University of California Press, 2010).
- Verducci, Susan, “A Moral Method? Thoughts on Cultivating Empathy Through Method Acting” Journal of Moral Education 29:1 2000.
8. Which of your own books/articles should we read?
- Hamington, Maurice and Maureen Sander-Staudt, Eds., Applying Care Ethics to Business, Issues in Business Ethics Series, Springer, September 2011.
- Hamington, Maurice, Ed., Feminism and Hospitality: Gender in the Host/Guest Relationship, Lexington Books (a Division of Rowman & Littlefield), August 2010.
- Hamington, Maurice, and Dorothy C. Miller, Eds., Socializing Care: Feminist Ethics and Public Issues, Rowman and Littlefield, January 2006.
- Hamington, Maurice, Embodied Care: Jane Addams, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Feminist Ethics, University of Illinois Press, September 2004.
- Hamington, Maurice, “Caring, Journalism, and the Power of Particularism,” Expositions: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities, Fall 2011.
- Hamington, Maurice, “Care Ethics and Corporeal Inquiry in Patient Relations,” International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics 5:1 (Spring 2012): 52-69.
- Hamington, Maurice, “Liberté, Égalité, Sororité: How Care Ethics Informs Social Justice,” Social Philosophy Today, 26:1, 2011.
- Hamington, Maurice, “Care Ethics, John Dewey’s ‘Dramatic Rehearsal’ and Moral Education,” Philosophy of Education Yearbook 2010. Spring 2011.
- Hamington, Maurice, “The Will to Care: Performance, Expectation, and Imagination,” Hypatia, 25:3, Summer 2010.
- Hamington, Maurice, “Toward a Theory of Feminist Hospitality,” Feminist Formations (formerly National Women’s Studies Association Journal), 22:1, April 2010.
- Hamington, Maurice, “Business is Not a Game: The Metaphoric Fallacy,” Journal of Business Ethics, 86:4, 2009.
- Hamington, Maurice, “Learning Ethics from Our Relationships with Animals: Moral Imagination,” International Journal of Applied Ethics, 22:2, Fall 2008.
- Hamington, Maurice, “Care Ethics and International Justice: The Cosmopolitanism of Jane Addams and Kwame Anthony Appiah,” Social Philosophy Today, 23, 2008.
- Hamington, Maurice, “Touching the Other in Myself: Merleau-Ponty, Tactility, and Care Ethics,” Review Journal of Political Philosophy, 4:1, 2006.
- Hamington, Maurice, “Jane Addams and the Politics of Embodied Care,” Journal of Speculative Philosophy, 15:2, Fall 2001.
9. What are important issues for the ethics of care in the future?
Care theory needs to be more than an academic pursuit. It is gaining popularity but only among some academics. Care needs to be a social and political value that helps repair our world. Traditional Western approaches to ethics are inadequate to address the challenges of our diverse social existence.
10. In Tilburg our ambition is to promote ethics of care nationally and internationally. Do you have any recommendations or wishes?
I wish to be supportive. Tilburg’s mission is much needed and I would like to see it be successful.