Carol Gilligan is considered by many to be a thought leader of difference feminism. We previously talked about what is difference feminism, and today we discuss her contributions to psychology more. Here are details about Carol Gilligan’s theory of gender and moral judgement, including her critique of Kohlberg’s theory.
Men, women, and moral judgement
According to her theory, females and males may rate differently on moral judgement because of gender bias instead of any intrinsic differences between them. Gilligan explains that men follow different voices than women.
This explains her 1982 book’s title “In a Different Voice.” Men tend to put relationships into a hierarchical structure, according to Carol Gilligan. Males focus on the morality of rights, while women instead emphasize caring and connectivity over principles of justice.
I want to point out that Carol Gilligan’s theory does not insist one way of thinking is better than the other. Instead, she simply points out the differences she feels exists between genders for moral judgement.
In her ideas about difference feminism, Gilligan criticizes moral and personal development theories that were benchmarks in psychology. Why?
Because these theories had a male bias. Difference feminism challenged moral stage theories by well-known male thinkers, such as Lawrence Kohlberg.
Carol Gilligan’s critique of Kohlberg’s theory is interesting. She suggested the men were only basing these theories on their own experiences. In doing so, they ignored half the population. In other words, they left out women.
Criticisms of Carol Gilligan’s theory
This study of moral judgement from a psychological perspective is one you may or may not agree with. It’s true that a full analysis of moral development would for many people have to consider more than only the psychological level. But it’s still important, in my opinion, to look at the different ways that people think about the world. So, for Gilligan, men would focus on laws while women would look primarily at relations instead.
It’s also difficult for me to go with the idea that all men are a specific way and women are another way. Doesn’t that take away from how original we each are?
Not to mention that generalizations are dangerous, so that’s a big issue with Carol Gilligan’s theory too. They don’t consider any differences. Instead, they paint everyone with the same brush stroke. This way of thinking doesn’t consider power dynamics and other factors.
And that’s not all. Your morals may not fit with how you actually act in a real life situation. For example, you might not tell the truth about something your co-worker did if you worry you’ll get fired for saying it.
While you know lying is wrong, in this case you might do so to keep your job. So, moral judgement gives details about how someone sees the world and also gives insights into rationalization.
Carol Gilligan’s theory of gender: Celebrating female differences
As per her theory, women have unique abilities they bring to the table. These skills ought to empower them. I feel the strength in this part of the theory and appreciate it.
Also, it’s important to hear views in psychology from all genders rather than just Kohlberg and other men. Why? Doing so can help make sure that psychology and other areas don’t have a gender bias.
It’s not fair to think that men’s thoughts are superior to those of women. It’s that simple. Or is it? Looking at Carol Gilligan’s critique of Kohlberg’s theory gives us a lot to think about here.
Care-based or justice-based morality?
Do you agree with the Carol Gilligan’s theory that men have justice-based morality while women have care-based? Do women have a different voice than men when it comes to moral judgment? I’d love to hear what you think!