Starting at Home: Caring and Social Policy

Starting at Home: Caring and Social Policy

by Nel Noddings
     
 

Nel Noddings, one of the central figures in the contemporary discussion of ethics and moral education, argues that caring—a way of life learned at home—can be extended into a theory that guides social policy. Tackling issues such as capital punishment, drug treatment, homelessness, mental illness, and abortion, Noddings inverts traditional philosophical

Overview

Nel Noddings, one of the central figures in the contemporary discussion of ethics and moral education, argues that caring—a way of life learned at home—can be extended into a theory that guides social policy. Tackling issues such as capital punishment, drug treatment, homelessness, mental illness, and abortion, Noddings inverts traditional philosophical priorities to show how an ethic of care can have profound and compelling implications for social and political thought.


Instead of beginning with an ideal state and then describing a role for home and family, this book starts with an ideal home and asks how what is learned there may be extended to the larger social domain. Noddings examines the tension between freedom and equality that characterized liberal thought in the twentieth century and finds that—for all its strengths—liberalism is still inadequate as social policy. She suggests instead that an attitude of attentive love in the home induces a corresponding responsiveness that can serve as a foundation for social policy.

With her characteristic sensitivity to the individual and to the vulnerable in society, the author concludes that any corrective practice that does more harm than the behavior it is aimed at correcting should be abandoned. This suggests an end to the disastrous war on drugs.
In addition, Noddings states that the caring professions that deal with the homeless should be guided by flexible policies that allow practitioners to respond adequately to the needs of very different clients. She recommends that the school curriculum should include serious preparation for home life as well as for professional and civic life.

Emphasizing the importance of improving life in everyday homes and the possible role social policy might play in this improvement, Starting at Home highlights the inextricable link between the development of care in individual lives and any discussion of moral life and social policy.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In her latest work on domestic theory, Noddings (education, Stanford Univ.) reverses the philosophical tradition of discussing how the ideal home can produce the ideal state and describes instead how the best homes can improve the larger society. Since one's ability to care for or care about strongly depends on having been cared for, it makes sense to analyze the attitudes and behaviors found in the "best" homes (those that provide protection and promote growth) and explore how those attributes can be extended to the larger social domain. From a weighty philosophical discourse, Noddings shifts into a more tangible discussion of the elements of a healthy upbringing love, acceptance, and the shelter of home. In the final section of the book, she applies care theory to social policies concerning homelessness, deviance, and education. One of her recommendations is that the school curriculum includes serious home life as well as professional preparation. Noddings does an admirable job of weaving together the theories of Aristotle and John Dewey, the accounts of Jonathan Kozol, and narratives of everyday family conversations. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries. Deborah Bigelow, Leonia P.L., NJ Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780520225565
Publisher:
University of California Press
Publication date:
01/28/2002
Pages:
349
Product dimensions:
6.25(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile:
1250L (what's this?)

Meet the Author

Nel Noddings is Lee Jacks Professor of Education, Emerita, at Stanford University. She is the author of Caring (California, 1984), Women and Evil (California, 1989), The Challenge to Care in Schools (1992), Educating for
Intelligent Belief or Unbelief
(1993), and Philosophy of Education (1995).

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