Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)

Reader 1

Adrienne Martin

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© 2024 Joelle Min


American psychologist Carol Gilligan's work reveals that the socialization of women often emphasizes an ethics of care, which is largely overlooked in traditional theories of moral development that prioritize justice and universal moral principles. This gendered distinction in socialization not only enables women to develop a service-based identity—where their self-value is intertwined with serving others—but also exposes them to exploitation. Such identities risk subordinating personal needs to the needs of others, making individuals susceptible to neglecting their own legitimate interests. These individuals have a service-based identity, as they value service to others so highly that their personal needs are often overlooked. Despite feminist advancements in recognizing and addressing these issues, like Jean Hampton's contract test, effective use of these tools requires a robust sense of self-worth and an understanding of one's legitimate interests as distinct from their service to others. Using Gilligan's three stages of moral development, this thesis contends that achieving a mature ethics of care, shielded from exploitation, demands a profound acknowledgment of individual legitimate interests; the proposed solutions emphasize fortifying one's psychological empowerment and transforming surrounding environments, enabling those with service-based identities to voice their needs within personal relationships and societal contexts, ultimately striving for an equilibrium that values the needs of oneself and others equitably.

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