This new edition of Eva Feder Kittay’s feminist classic, Love’s Labor, explores how theories of justice and morality must be reconfigured when intersecting with care and dependency, and the failure of policy towards women who engage in care work. The work is hailed as a major contribution to the development of an ethics of care.
Where society is viewed as an association of equal and autonomous persons, the work of caring for dependents figures neither in political theory nor in social policy. While some women have made many gains, equality continues to elude many others, as in large measure, social institutions fail to take into account the dependency of childhood, illness, disability and frail old age and fail to adequately support those who care for dependents. Using a narrative of her experiences caring for her disabled daughter, Eva Feder Kittay discusses the relevance of her analysis of dependency to significant cognitive disability. She explores the significance of dependency work by analyzing John Rawls' influential liberal theory and two examples of public policy—welfare reform and family leave—to show how theory and policy fail women when they miss the centrality of dependency to issues of justice. This second edition has updated material on care workers, her adult disabled daughter and key changes in welfare reform.
Using a mix of personal reflection and political argument, this new edition of a classic text will continue to be an innovative and influential contribution to the debate on searching for greater equality and justice for women.
Love’s Labor has spoken to audiences around the world and has had an impact on readers from many countries and in many disciplines: philosophy, sociology, disability studies, nursing. It has been required and supplementary reading on many undergraduate courses on Ethics, Feminist Ethics, Gender and Religious Ethics, Political Theory, Bioethics and Disability Studies. It has been translated into Italian, Japanese and Korean.
Table of Contents
Introduction to the Second Edition
Equality as Sexual Equality
The Difference Critique
The Dominance Critique
The Diversity Critique
The Dependency Critique
Should Women Still Want Equality?
Part 1 Love’s Labor: The Requirements of Dependency
Chapter 1 Relationships of Dependency and Equality
Reflections on Being a Mother’s Child
Dependency in the Human Condition
Dependency Work, the Dependency Worker, and the Charge
A Paradigm of Dependency Work
Situating Dependency Work Within a Practice
Extending the Concept of Dependency Work
Dependency Work in "Cooperative Conflicts"
Cooperative Conflicts—The Provider
Breakdown Positions and Inequality in Cooperative Conflicts
Secondary Dependency and Equality for Dependency Workers
Chapter 2 Vulnerability and the Moral Nature of Dependency Relations
The Transparent Self of the Dependency Worker
Moral Obligations of Dependency Workers and an Ethics of Care
Moral Obligations to the Dependency Worker
Part 2 Political Liberalism and Human Dependency
Dependency as a Criterion of Adequacy
The Role of Equality and Equality’s Presuppositions
The Arguments in Outline
Chapter 3 The Presuppositions of Equality
Dependency as Both an Objective and a Subjective Circumstance of Justice
The Absence of Dependency in the "Circumstances of Justice"
Dependency and Heads of Households
Chronological Unfairness and Intergenerational Justice
The Idealization That "All Citizens Are Fully Cooperating Members of Society"
Fully Cooperating Throughout a Life—The Strong Interpretation
Fully Cooperating Over a Lifetime—The Weak Interpretation
Free Persons Are a Self-Originating Sources of Valid Claims"
Is the Dependency Worker a Self-Originator of Claims?
Is the Dependency Worker a Self-Authenticator of Claims?
Chapter 4 The Benefits and Burdens of Social Cooperation
The Two Powers of a Moral Person and the Index of Primary Goods
The Omission of Care as a Primary Good
Care as a Primary Good Issuing from the Moral Power to Care
The Public Conception of Social Cooperation
Dependency Concerns in Rawls’s Conception of Social Cooperation
Reciprocity and Doulia
Dependents and Dependency Workers as the Least Well-Off
The Dependency Relation as a Social Position
A Third Principle of Justice?
Part 3 Some Mother’s Child
Chapter 5 Policy and a Public Ethic of Care
"Welfare Is a Woman’s Issue": The Subtext of Welfare "Reform"
Justifications of Welfare
The Matemalist Justification of Welfare
Welfare Justified by Dependency Considerations
Conditions for the Derived Dependency of Dependency Workers
The Principle of Doulia as a Justification for Welfare
The Family and Medical Leave Act
Reading the Family and Medical Leave Act
Welfare Re-Formed: A Vision of Welfare Based on Doulia
Chapter 6 "Not My Way, Sesha Your Way. Slowly." A Personal Narrative
A Child is Born
Portrait of Sesha at Twenty-Seven
On the Very Possibility of Mothering and the Challenge of the Severely Disabled Child
Mothering Distributed: The Work of Dependency Care
She Came to Stay
Peggy and I
Alternative Routes—Routes Not Taken
Chapter 7 Maternal Thinking with a Difference
Socialization for Acceptance
Care for Disability and Social Justice
Lessons for the Theoretician
Eva Feder Kittay is Distinguished Professor Emerita of Philosophy at Stony Brook University/SUNY. Her pioneering work interjecting questions of care and disability (especially cognitive disability) into philosophy, and her work in feminist theory and the philosophy of disability, have garnered a number of honors and prizes: 2003 Woman Philosopher of the Year by the Society for Women in Philosophy; the inaugural prize of the Institut de Mensch, Ethik und Wissenschaft; the Lebowitz prize from the American Philosophical Association; and Phi Beta Kappa, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Center for Discovery, an NEH Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Eva Kittay’s first works in philosophy were in the philosophy of language, publishing Metaphor: Its Cognitive Force and Linguistic Structure (1987). Love’s Labor: Essays on Women, Equality and Dependency (1999) received international attention. The edited collection Women and Moral Theory (with Diana Meyers, 1987) ushered in decades-long work by philosophers in the ethics of care. Other edited collections include The Blackwell Guide to Feminist Philosophy (with Linda Alcoff, 2007) and The Subject of Care: Theoretical Perspectives on Dependency and Women (with Ellen Feder, 2003). A 2008 collection—based on a conference she organized, Cognitive Disability and the Challenge to Moral Philosophy—opened a new field of inquiry in philosophy. Her most recent book is Learning from My Daughter: The Value and Care of Disabled Minds (2019).
The publication of Eva Kittay's Love's Labor in 1999 was a significant event in American moral and political philosophy for more than one reason. First, Kittay's book puts issues of disability on the agenda of moral and political philosophy; second, it articulates some very persuasive and powerful criticisms of contractarian models of justice; third, it shows how good philosophy can help us think well about concrete political choices.
Finally, and not at all least, the book compels attention because of its moving and beautifully written account of Kittay's daughter Sesha. Kittay thus raises important questions about the role of the imagination of particulars in philosophy aimed at radical moral and social change.
– Martha Nussbaum, Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago
Twenty years ago Eva Kittay’s book Love’s Labor poignantly and persuasively argued that modern liberal states, and liberal philosophers, fail to recognize caregiving as essential human labor that sustains the species, and as work that deserves the protection of states, of rights, and of civil society. She then showed how liberal commitments can be reworked to center and protect that work. This edition further develops the argument in a global context, highlighting the often dire conditions of migrant and immigrant women who travel far from their own homes, separated from their kin, in order to care for first world children not their own. Kittay’s book underscores the humanity and universality of carework, and the need to construct a just world that respects the needs of caregivers and their dependents worldwide.
– Robin West, Frederick J. Haas Professor of Law and Philosophy, Georgetown Law
Few books touch and expand the moral imagination as deeply and humanely as Love’s Labor. Eva Feder Kittay carefully explores the grounds of interdependence and relationality in the human condition. She rejects facile notions of individualistic and competitive social being. She conjoins philosophy and feeling in the story of her personal confrontation with profound cognitive impairment in the life of her daughter, Sesha. This remarkable book of many methods opens for all of us new understandings of equality, social justice, and the practices of care.
– Bruce Jennings, Senior Advisor, The Hastings Center
Love’s Labor was the first book to give sustained consideration to disability in the study of feminist care ethics. Arguing for the personhood of people with profound disabilities, it also made a compelling argument for why a just society must recognize the dignity and rights of care workers. In its unforgettable story of a mother’s love for her daughter it shows the power of a philosophy grounded in lived experience, feeling, and attachment. Groundbreaking in its time, Love’s Labor continues to be necessary reading for scholars working at the intersection of feminist theory, moral philosophy, and disability studies.
– Rachel Adams, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University