Kate Dildy

Wolf Humanities Center Undergraduate Fellow

20192020 Forum on Kinship

Kate Dildy


CAS, 2020

Kate is studying Philosophy, with minors in Religious Studies, Mathematics, and Statistics and interests in global justice and the social dimensions of medical, technological, and scientific innovation. She has co-authored a book chapter on the ethical and legal limitations of living wills in medical decision-making for people with dementia, to be published by Springer in Living with Dementia: Ethical and Neuroscientific Issues in International Perspectives. Kate has previously worked on research projects spanning behavioral health economics to the ethics of vulnerability in a commercial context. She hopes to use her inquiries into the transformative effects of kinship relationships on personal identity to help us develop more compassionate, personally transformative relationships with strangers. You can find her cooking, biking along the Schuylkill River, taking House and Funk dance classes, or exploring the far corners of Philadelphia.

Starting Close to Home: Relational Care and Global Justice

I consider what the feminist care ethics tradition can teach us about human rights. Many activists and scholars argue that the provision of material aid for positive liberties is a missing piece of the modern human rights puzzle. But material aid for which positive liberties? And what are the possible dangers of homogenizing and universalizing positive liberties? Care ethics, an ethical tradition that draws on features of caring within kinship networks and historically female spheres, creates space to reason in a relational, rather than individualistic, way about human rights and duties. The approach reconceives of the self and personal autonomy as necessarily relational. In particular, I look at how care ethics allows us to discern between positive liberties by developing reasoning grounded in the universal capacity to care rather than universal, legal reasoning. I begin by tracing the consequences of moving away from rights-based language and shifting to needs-based language, largely through discourse analysis. Next, I consider realms of non-material need neglected by the materialist approach and respond to the popular capability approach to human development. I consider pitfalls of the extension of care ethics into global justice; among them, does care ethics universalize and essentialize the “female” in the process of skirting other universal terms? Finally, I explore how accounts of relational personal identity and relational autonomy put us in a different position to think about who has positive liberties—whether it be individuals, kinship networks, ethnic or religious groups, among others.