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Negotiating Responsibilities 

Negotiating Responsibilities
Chapter:
Negotiating Responsibilities
Author(s):

Marian A. Verkerk

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780190624880.003.0007
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date: 05 June 2020

In this chapter a moral case is made for family care. Two arguments are put forward in defense of this position: first, there is a moral familial responsibility and second, in taking care of a family member, a certain social good is derived that cannot be obtained otherwise. Family can be understood as a caring practice in which special responsibilities are distributed and negotiated. While family relationships count, the history of that relationship and the particulars of the situation also count in determining the moral weight of responsibilities that we have toward each other. If and how we have a particular responsibility toward a family member depends on the moral shape of the situation. Political and social considerations, such as considerations of justice and equity, are also part of this moral shape. The practice of assigning responsibilities is only intelligible against the background of existing practices and the normative expectations arising from them—practices that themselves need to be evaluated. In sum, family care can be seen as a contested practice in which responsibilities to care are negotiated.

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