Episode 4

Published on:

7th Feb 2024

Care ethics, phenomenology, politics and play - with Petr Urban

What is ‘care ethics’ and what are some of the current themes and debates in the ethics of care? How are care, art, play – and democracy - connected? And what can the work of phenomenological thinkers, such as Edith Stein, contribute to an understanding of care?

These are some of the questions we explore in this episode, with Petr Urban, a senior researcher at the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague and project coordinator of the Center for Environmental and Technology Ethics - Prague. Petr has published books and journal articles on a wide range of topics. His work on care has included explorations of the political dimensions of care, the connections between care ethics and theories of play, and the relevance of the philosophical ideas of Edith Stein for feminist care ethics. He is the co-editor with Lizzie Ward of Care Ethics, Democratic Citizenship and the State, which was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2020. His most recent book, co-written with Dan Swain, is Social Cohesion Contested, which was published by Rowman and Littlefield in January this year.

We cover the following topics in this episode:

Petr's current work (02:50)

The origins of Petr's interest in care ethics (04:40)

Defining 'care ethics' (10:15)

Writers on care ethics who have influenced Petr's thinking (17:55)

Care ethics and 'enactivism' (20:50)

Care ethics and play (27:15)

Play, art and democracy (35:50)

Care and institutions (39:20)

Edith Stein and care ethics (45:50)

Petr's forthcoming publications (58:44)

A selection of Petr’s publications

'Care Ethics and Public Administration', in The Bloomsbury Handbook of Care Ethics, edited by Matilda Carter (forthcoming, 2024)

Care Ethics and the Feminist Personalism of Edith Stein’ (2022)

Play and Democracy: Philosophical Perspectives (with Alice Koubová and others, 2022)

Enacting Care’ (2015)

Other publications mentioned in the episode

Maurice Hamington, Embodied Care: Jane Addams, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Feminist Ethics (2004)

Virginia Held, The Ethics of Care: Personal, Political, Global (2006)

Joan Tronto, Caring Democracy: Markets, Equality and Justice (2013)

Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development (1982)

Sara Ruddick, ‘Maternal Thinking’ (1980)

Daniel Engster, Justice, Care and the Welfare State (2015)

Sophie Bourgault, ‘Prolegomena to a caring bureaucracy’ (2016)

Geoffrey Dierckxsens (ed.) ‘Ethical Dimensions of Enactive Cognition—Perspectives on Enactivism, Bioethics and Applied Ethics’ (Special Issue of Topoi: An International Review of Philosophy, 2022) 

Wendy Hollway, The Capacity to Care: Gender and Ethical Subjectivity (2006)

Martha Nussbaum, ‘Winnicott on the Surprises of the Self’ (2006)

Nel Noddings, Caring: A Relational Approach to Ethics and Moral Education (2013)

Sara Heinämaa, Towards a Phenomenology of Sexual Difference: Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Beauvoir (2003)

Inge van Nistelrooij and others (eds.) Care Ethics, Religion and Spiritual Traditions  (2022)

Some of the writers and thinkers discussed in the episode

Edmund Husserl

Edith Stein

Maurice Merleau-Ponty

Donald Winnicott

Show artwork for Careful Thinking

About the Podcast

Careful Thinking
Exploring ideas about care
At some point in our lives, we will all have the experience of caring for another person, or of being cared for ourselves. But what exactly is 'care', and what do we mean by 'good' care? How do aspects of our identity influence our experience of caring or being cared for? And how can ideas, theories and the findings from academic research, help us to think more care-fully - and to care more thoughtfully?

Careful Thinking explores these and similar questions, inspired by a belief that thinking critically about care can both deepen our understanding and improve the day-to-day practice of care. In each episode of the podcast, you'll hear an in-depth conversation with a researcher, writer or practitioner at the cutting edge of current thinking about care.

If you would like to give us your feedback, or suggest a guest or a topic for a future episode, you can get in touch at carefulthinkingpodcast@gmail.com. And you can leave comments on episodes and join in the discussion at https://carefulthinking.substack.com.

About your host

Profile picture for Martin Robb

Martin Robb

Martin Robb is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care at The Open University, where he has contributed to a wide range of courses for people working in the caring professions. His research has focused on issues of gender and care and he also has an interest in care ethics and theories of care.