Freedom to Care : Liberalism, Dependency Care, and Culture book cover
1st Edition

Freedom to Care
Liberalism, Dependency Care, and Culture

ISBN 9781032091921
Published June 30, 2021 by Routledge
232 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book presents the first systematic account of dependency care in a liberal theory of justice. Despite the fact that receiving dependency care is necessary for human survival, the practices with which we meet society’s care needs are seldom recognized for their functional role. Instead, norms about gender and race obscure and shape expectations about whose needs for care are legitimate as well as about whose caregiving labor more advantaged members of society will receive. These opaque arrangements must be made visible if we are to remedy skewed intuitions and judgements about care. Freedom to Care develops a modified form of social contract theory with which to evaluate society’s caregiving arrangements. Building on work by feminist liberals and care ethicists, it reframes debates about care to move beyond gender with an inequality-tracking framework that can be employed in any culture. Because care provision has been enmeshed in the subordination of women and people of color, eliminating the invisibility of these forms of labor yields a critical liberal theory of justice with feminist and anti-racist aims.

Table of Contents

1. The Theory of Liberal Dependency Care

Part I: Theory

2. A Rawlsian Response to Kittay

3. The Arrow of Care Map

4. Other-Directedness in Contract Theory

5. Autonomy Skills

Part II: Practices, Principles, and Change

6. A Liberal Concept of Caregiving as Burden and Excellence

7. Teaching Boys How to Care

8. A Cross-Cultural Framework

9. Culture, Investments, and Typologies of Men


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Asha Bhandary is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Iowa, USA. Her research is primarily in feminist ethics and liberal political philosophy. She is the co-editor of Caring for Liberalism: Dependency and Liberal Political Theory (Routledge, 2021). Her published articles have appeared in Hypatia, The Journal of Political Philosophy, Social Theory and Practice, The Journal of Philosophical Research, and Feminist Philosophy Quarterly.


"Asha Bhandary’s Freedom to Care outlines the most extensive argument to date for incorporating the human need for dependency care in a liberal theory of justice. It offers an important contribution to contemporary liberal political theories by clearly explaining how and why they might include an account of just care within them. It also provides useful insights to the contemporary ethics of care literature by suggesting that many of care ethic’s commitments are not as antithetical to liberal justice as sometimes supposed."

Daniel Engster, University of Houston, USA

"Freedom to Care shows the sort of attention and responsiveness to complex details and competing value demands that make not only for good care work but good political philosophy. Bhandary insists that to think well about the requirements of justice with regard to care work, we need to think of it as work, and thus distinguish it as much as possible from the relations of affection and love in which it is often carried out. This helps her pay attention not only to the gendered aspects of who cares for whom but the racial ones as well: all the ways that care work is not only unfairly distributed within families but in the expectation that some people will care for other people’s children and elderly parents."

Anthony Simon Laden, The Philosophical Quarterly