Lonergan’s Ethics and Feminist Ethics: Exploring the Meaning of Care


  • Alessandra Gillis Simon Fraser University


deliberation, consent, ethics of care, Bernard Lonergan


Over the past thirty-odd years, the feminist contribution of the ethic of care has changed the way in which scholars and ‘lay people’ think about and approach ethical practices in our contemporary society. These changes are important in two significant ways. First, the contribution of feminist work to the body of ethics as a whole is a valuable addition. Second, by drawing attention to the concrete context of moral decision-making, particularly the notion of care, feminist scholars have opened the door for meaningful discussion and understanding of the word care as it is involved in moral decision-making. The latter is where Lonergan’s theory of ethics is most beneficial.The article is written in four sections. It begins with a brief review of a feminist perspective on the ethic of care; a second section explores Lonergan’s identification of levels of consciousness as relevant to feminist notions of care; a third section explores the influence of Aquinas on Lonergan’s theory of ethics and richly applies this fuller context (linking feelings, plans, actions and decisions) to feminist contributions; a final section enlarges significantly on the meaning of the word care by introducing Lonergan’s idea of functional specialization as an ‘ethic of ethics’ that will care about the field of ethics in a radically new way.

Author Biography

Alessandra Gillis, Simon Fraser University

Alexandra Gillis has been deeply involved in the work of Bernard Lonergan for the past twenty-three years. She has written Thinking Woman (2006) and is co-author, with John Benton and Philip McShane, of Introducing Critical Thinking (2005). Her articles "The Number One Question About Feminism: The Third Wave and the Next Half-Century" and "Aesthetics, Art, Liberty and the Ultimate have appeared in recent issues of this journal. She works as a secondary school teacher in Vancouver, BC and is currently completing a Doctorate in the Department of Education at Simon Fraser University.