This paper aims to examine what it is to recognize and connect to the value of persons in our goings on. The title of this project, Beyond Etiquette, is intended to frame this examination as indeed reaching past the obligations and callings of rote etiquette in order to touch on what really counts as succeeding and, as is often the case, failing in our ways of being with others.

The first chapter of this paper is meant to introduce the reader to my topic, as well as inform them of my aims, motivations, and ultimately what to expect from this paper.

The second chapter of my independent study is meant to situate the question “What is it to care for other people?” in the relevant philosophical terrain. At first glance this may seem like a question best addressed by the philosophical tradition of Care Theory. However, this chapter will show, after analyzing two major theories of care, that Care Theory is itself insufficient in accounting for our being ethical towards others.

The third chapter of my independent study will make first steps at diagnosing this insufficiency and addressing the meta-ethical presuppositions it contains. The first order of business is to dismantle the Humean conception of motivation and thereby expose the untenable nature of Care Theory’s underlying non-cognitivism. I shall paint a picture of a different meta-ethical position, cognitivism, which will remedy the issues present in an anti-moral realist account. Also in this chapter of my independent study, I will show why Care Theories, so construed, are insufficient not just in their meta-ethical positioning, but also insofar as they have an impoverished conception of what caring is. The meta-ethical framework that these theories are grounded upon, non-cognitivism, is unable to fully account for what it is to care for other people.

In my fourth and fifth chapters I will discuss what indeed are the necessary conditions for maintaining a sensitivity to the value of others and also to show what the opposite of that sensitivity consists in; namely value ignorance. After a brief discussion of epistemic responsibility and ignorance, I will then show that one component of this, both epistemic and ethical, is that the kind of value ignorance that we talk about relating to the moral epistemology of others impossible if we take Care Theory as it stands. Then I will show that the possibility of value ignorance regarding others is crucial criterion for recognizing right or wrong conduct towards others.


Thomson, Garrett




Epistemology | Ethics and Political Philosophy | Feminist Philosophy


Cognitivism, Altruism, Care Theory, Value of Persons

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2015 Maxim V. Elrod