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Notes for the construction of a philosophy of peace through reason and emotions: a joint proposal from Rawlsian theory and the philosophy of care

“Moral sentiments are necessary to ensure that the basic structure is stable concerning justice.”  (Rawls, 1971: 458)

“It is helpful to recall three elements that enter into the operation of the phycological laws: naming an unconditional caring for our good, more precise awareness of the reasons for moral precepts and ideals [ …]and the recognition that those complying with these precepts and ideals […] (Rawls, 1971: 498)

“Care […] is one of the “powers of the weak” (Tronto, 1994: 122)

“Care needs to be connected to a theory of justice and to be relentless democratic in its disposition.” (Tronto, 1994:171)

Some initial considerations

Positive politics, in general, is fundamental. Still, in contexts where there is a deficit of organization, order, justice, peace, cooperation, solidarity, and compassion, it is necessary to rethink and urgently apply it. Much remains to be done by people and institutions in political spaces to construct better and more humanizing realities for citizens. That is why in those scenarios where positive politics is present, it is imperative to raise concrete constructions in which human flourishing is achieved. This requirement forces us to think from the theoretical formulations of some philosophers, who provide us with elements to build reflections on peace and justice. These formulations must be grounded in lived experience and citizen praxis, located in the contexts, and supported by reason and emotions. Specifically, in the spaces of positive politics, the concrete construction of peace is a difficult task to postpone in a country like Mexico.

Contemporary political theories generally sought ways to translate their proposals into reality. Most of them are heirs of the political theories of modernity that made polarizing dichotomies prevail and continue to do so. Among them, we can point out: individual-community, monism-pluralism, particularism-universalism, and reason-emotion. These dualisms inherit exclusionary codes of these realities that, when realized detached from existence, do a partial reading that compromises possibilities for new political proposals. This is what happens with the dualism that is codified concerning reason and emotion. This has led to an aggrandized and omnipresent rationalism that causes distortions in the arguments. This is due to the exclusion of emotions that has prevailed, underpinning rationalist arguments. As the idea of reason prevails, passions have been pushed aside and left without a place in the paradigmatic political theories of the contemporary world. This conceals a whole host of valuable human resources that, although today we refer to them as emotions -which are considered the opposite of political reason-throughout the history of thought, they have been called passions, with their affective and cognitive components. In this antagonistic horizon between reason and emotion, both concepts make sense in contemporary theoretical discourse, even though the political sphere has been theoretically constructed as the territory of the rational. The State, considered the holder of the monopoly of political power and legitimate violence, is justified by its capacity to “domesticate the passions,” given that it requires the coexistence of all the actors involved in the political process. since coercion is needed to make them conform to the dictates of reason and justice. In these dualisms, emotions are an unacceptable part of political reason. They are the atavistic elements that are maintained and seem to have no place in contemporary thought and the frameworks of modern freedom.

The Rawlsian proposal, with its egalitarian liberalism, makes use, in addition to the resource of the rational, of another fundamental element in Rawls’ theory, which is that of reasonableness. Moreover, of enormous relevance to this question is the meaning of the sense of justice. This opens possibilities to the affective and emotional elements from the moral sentiments in constructing his theory of justice of political character.

From there, it is that in this text, we start from the articulation of this proposal of Rawls’ theory of justice -which envisions the subject of care from a public perspective-with the initiative of the philosophy of care, whose starting point begins with Carol Gilligan. From Gilligan’s hand and proposals from feminism and political philosophy, initiatives have emerged around the philosophy of care, each with specific nuances but maintaining the silenced dimension of affections.

Gilligan reviewed the studies on the development of moral judgment by Lawrence Kohlberg. He warned that such studies are only valid for measuring moral development in terms of orientation towards justice and rights (Gilligan, 1993: 19,27). What Kohlberg observed as moral confusion in the studies with females, Gilligan assumed to be an expression of maturity in moral development. In this part of the study with girls, they are in a network of mutual relationships; they are not independently situated as is the case with boys. She argues that there is another mode of moral development oriented to care and responsibility that she identifies with the voice of women. This mode is more contextual and tends to take the point of view of others. Gilligan wants to achieve this different moral voice to be heard and taken seriously.

The moral imperative, which for Gilligan repeatedly emerges in interviews with women, is a mandate for attention and care, a responsibility to discern and alleviate the authentic and recognizable difficulties of this world. For men, the moral imperative seems, instead, a commandment to respect the rights of others and thus to protect the rights to life and self-realization from intrusion.

The reflexive approach intended in this text could be thought of as almost unthinkable because it is true that Gilligan (1985: 291) goes against normative theories such as Rawls’. However, we cannot fail to appreciate Rawls’s importance to that incipient care in the public and political sphere and his concern for welfare and solidarity. These Rawlsian concerns, while not precisely care, nevertheless lead to it. The commitment to a political life that benefits all and not just a majority has to be considered. Thus, a rereading of Rawlsian work allows us to see that, on the one hand, his concerns are not absolutely and merely normative. On the other hand, we can see that the ethics of care is understood as a moral theory that contains principles that can be adopted complementary to those of the ethics of justice. Both Rawlsian analysis and the ethics of care seek to defend the plurality of voices, making room for those who have not been included so that both proposals of care and justice can coexist and add their contributions.

Even so, when a political philosophy such as Rawls’ introduces just a couple of times at the end of his Theory of Justice the category of care (Rawls 1971: 498,499), it opens possibilities of transforming political thought concerning others with others in a tenor of the idea of fraternity, reciprocity, and solidarity. This is because care forces us to think concretely about the real needs of people and evaluates how these needs will be met. This makes us question the justice of what we live and value. In this sense, the concept of care constitutes an integral moral and political concept.

With both theories in dialogue, it seems possible to construct some approaches to thinking of peace, both from a normative perspective of a political theory situated in political contexts and from a look oriented to those environments from the perspective of care. This care can be thought of as a political ideal (Tronto, 1994: 161) and not merely as a moral concept because the practice of care describes the qualities necessary for democratic citizens to live together in a plural society and only in such a society can they flourish (Tronto, 1994: 161-162).

The dialogue between Rawlsian theory and theories of care concerns the role of emotions in positive politics and their relationship with rationality and a balanced relationship. Between human capacities and their consideration in theoretical constructions, it is possible to think of the emergence of solidarity, reciprocity, and benevolence supported by power as concertation and agreement. From there, collective decisions can be made to foster situations of peace based on empirical information, to use it as a basis for the theories that make consistent proposals and predictions.

Towards justice from reciprocity, fraternity, and care

John Rawls was one of the philosophers who sought to make his political philosophy project grounded and feasible. His proposals, which have always been judged as profoundly rational, have been rethought and reconsidered from points of view that move away from merely rational readings. Rawls gives clues to appreciate that, for him, the arguments of emotions are essential and, therefore, must be part of his fundamental theoretical construction. The sentiments and emotions inserted in Rawlsian proposals play a fundamental role in the theory of justice as fairness by supporting the pretension of providing stability to a democratic society in a framework of fairness.

In this sense, when the Theory of Justice appeared in 1971, its author hoped that it would be a theory for the people who inhabit this world and that it would be related to what these people want, do, or can do, in the spirit of building a well-ordered society. He intended to institutionalize citizenship rights in a basic structure of society to overcome political and social inequalities. One of the problems faced by John Rawls in his theory of justice as fairness was his attempt to harmonize normative principles with the psychological dispositions and motivational choices, and values of citizens. This topic has given rise to thoughtful disquisitions involving areas of complex articulation and with strong tensions and ambiguities that have stimulated a great deal of criticism.

It is relevant to point out that after having finished the revision of his Theory of Justice in 1999, Rawls tried to develop his ideas on moral psychology.[1] However, he did not carry out this project since he was in moments when an infinity of debates arose around his great work, which absorbed his attention. For this reason, he no longer wrote more extensive considerations on this subject. Despite this lack, we can appreciate in his work his concerns about sentiments and emotions, which allows us to visualize these veins -generally little explored and with a poorly appreciated place- in the worries of Rawls’ scholars.

Emotions such as guilt and shame, remorse and regret, indignation and anger allude to principles that belong to different parts of morality. Moral sentiments are a standard feature of human life, and we could not dispense with them without at the same time eliminating certain natural attitudes. Thus, Rawls points out that people have to act under their duty of justice and, from there, originate bonds of friendship and mutual trust (Rawls, 1971:538,539). If the principles of justice were not accepted -as is the case of egoists-, they could not feel anger or indignation, but neither friendship, affection, nor mutual trust. A person with a sense of justice is one who can express these moral emotions (Rawls, 1971: 488).

It is essential to recognize the shaping of sentiments as they refer to a recognized justice or injustice. There will be times when we need to appreciate the passions of indignation and love that can be essential elements in a radical critique of unjust institutions, as Martha Nussbaum has argued more explicitly. He is also close (2003:490) to the proposals of Sharon Krause with her idea of “affectively engaged fairness” (Krause,2008:2,72). This concern shared by Rawls also involves the consideration of sentiments. In this regard, our chosen principles of justice have a normative authority because of their compatibility with the exercise of reason and with the complex emotional psychology characteristic of human beings. Such principles of justice are justified in part by their compatibility with the kind of sentiments and emotions that citizens have so that there is the possibility of justice in our empirical, contingent, and affective selves.

Indeed, the rationalism of politics has historically banished women from that realm, though fortunately, it has gradually opened even with the misgivings that it will always be subject to the suspicion of being antinaturally cold and masculinized (Gilligan, 1993: 69ff). Rawls does not manage to overcome, at least at first, these criticisms from feminism. It was not until later that he confronted this question.

In general -in the liberal tenor- much has been written and debated from the multiple concepts that this North American philosopher coins. However, little has been pointed out concerning his work’s approach to sentiments and emotions. Contrary to the generalized reading of Rawls’ work, however, he is concerned with the role played by sentiments and emotions, articulated with a consideration of the liberal subject. Both sentiments and emotions are fundamental to developing the principles of justice of Rawlsian theory. They justify and explain the motivation of people to act, following the principles of justice established by Rawls.

For their part, the principles of moral psychology must be able to explain not only the sense of justice of a well-ordered society but also understand the moral psychology of other types of societies. For this reason, Rawls affirms that “justice as fairness generates its support and shows that it probably has a greater stability than the traditional alternatives, since it is more in accordance with the principles of moral psychology” (Rawls, 1971: 456). The moral psychology of the Theory of Justice assumes that moral motives[2] are real and are not based on self-interest and “defends that by virtue of our nature we are inclined to appreciate and develop sincere ties towards people and institutions that affirm our good” (Freeman, 2003: 24). It is in this sense that the principles of moral psychology -which are principles of reciprocity- develop this idea of appreciation of sincere ties. The psychological laws pointed out by Rawls are carried out during moral development and generate attitudes of love, trust, and sentiments of friendship and mutual trust.[3] There is a recognition of who we are and the others we care about; we are all the beneficiaries of just, established, and lasting institutions and they tend to engender in us a corresponding sense of justice. Justice as fairness is built on an ideal of reciprocity where the basic institutions are designed to promote the good in solidarity from a basis of equality. This is presented on the assumption that citizens already have an adequate sense of justice and want to do what is just and right. This sense of justice promotes the human good.

Many doubts arise about the presence of emotions, sentiments, and moral psychology in the diverse Rawlsian texts, given that they emplace enormous complexities. But Rawls himself affirms that this theoretical proposal is “a theory of moral sentiments” [4](Rawls, 1971: 51), and in this tenor, the principles of justice comprise the sense of justice that is consummated through the reflective equilibrium[5] hence the importance of the psychological description of the development of the sense of justice, offered in the Theory of Justice, is shown. It is examined in what its structure consists, and with this, it will be possible to estimate the relevance of the affective elements in the construction of justice as fairness. Hence, it is essential to appreciate the sense of justice in a well-ordered society.

For the American philosopher, the sense of justice is a moral feeling contained in the principles of justice and constitutes the fundamental element of Rawlsian theory. Rawls defines this sense of justice as a usually effective desire to apply and live with the principles of justice and its institutional requirements (Rawls, 1971: 505).  Thus, with the consideration of this sense of justice, the interest that Rawls has in the description of the development of moral psychology is estimated.

The rationalist critique -the strongest- ratifies that the theory of justice as fairness erects and justifies the principles of justice, appealing only to cognitive elements. It follows that affections and sentiments are then limited in the Rawlsian conception. If this is so, the proposal of justice as fairness does not account for such sentiments and, therefore, has no connection with flesh and blood persons as Rawls intended. But this does not seem to reflect what Rawls intended. Consequently, I argue here that sentiments, emotions, and affections are indeed involved in the Rawlsian proposal of justice through the sense of justice -as a moral sentiment and the resource of reflective equilibrium-in conjunction with the approach of social psychology and its development. Suppose the rationalist criticisms are accepted in an absolute manner. In that case, Rawlsian theory is devastated since the principles of justice end up being mere abstract and lifeless speculations that could contribute very little to the debates on social justice and a situated and applied political theory.

The proposal of justice as fairness seeks to achieve the most appropriate principles of distributive justice for a democratic society, a conception in which several primary social goods are identified that must be distributed equitably. The two principles of justice defended by Rawls in the notion of justice as fairness govern the basic structure of society[6], and there, moral sentiments are inserted. These perspectives intended by Rawls in an attempt at abstraction and generalization and an ideal scenario have been recurrently pointed out with the rationalist bias -pointed out just now since such an idealization does not allow us to understand the problem in real societies. This well-ordered society is governed by the principles of justice. The commitment to the original position justifies it; the idea of public reason and the reflective equilibrium allow the possibility of being embodied in lived and not only thought societies.

To support his conception, the American philosopher puts forward the argument of the congruence of good and justice in the third part of the Theory of Justice (Rawls, 1971: 395). He argues that the citizens of a well-ordered society governed by the principles of justice as fairness would incorporate a conception of justice such as the one he proposes in the first chapters and throughout his great work. It is based on these principles that agreements are made among citizens as free and equal rational beings, and such agreements are supported by the feeling of justice that aspires to want to do what is right and just for its own sake. Rawls qualifies this approach in Political Liberalism and in Justice as fairness: a reformulation, and with this, it is possible for him to argue within the framework of his whole conception. In Political Liberalism, he introduces pluralism (Rawls, 1993: XVI), an issue that gives rise to individuals having different and even incompatible conceptions of the good, which accounts for free institutions (Rawls, 1979: 589 and Rawls, 1993: 154).

Cooperation and judgment are two theoretical elements that allow us to speak of reasonableness, that is, from the disposition to raise and commend terms of cooperation in a way that satisfies the criterion of reciprocity and also to recognize the burdens of judgment, as well as to accept its consequences (Rawls, 1993: 49n; Rawls, 1999: 304). The North American author points out that “I start from the assumption that being a member of some community and committing oneself in many forms of cooperation is a condition of human life (Rawls, 1971: 438).

A conception of political justice characterizes the just terms of cooperation. The idea of social cooperation is guided by the publicly recognized rules and processes of those who cooperate and regulate their behavior. The idea of social cooperation requires an idea of the rational advantage or good of each participant. These proposals are linked to the concept of reciprocity, understood as the relationship between citizens, expressed by principles of justice that regulate a social world where everyone benefits. Reciprocity is the relationship between citizens in a well-ordered society and is referred to by its public and political conception of justice. It is reciprocity between free and equal citizens in a well-ordered society (Rawls, 1993:17). These ideas of reciprocity and cooperation are based on the idea of a person not as a normative conception but rather as a moral conception of persons, which is based on the idea of persons in our daily life, and as an assumption of the concept of persons as basic units of thought, deliberation, and responsibility, and adapted to a political conception of justice. At the same time, it is a political notion of the person given the goals of justice as fairness and as a possible conception for the bases of possible democratic citizenship (Rawls, 1993:18).

In such a way, the justification of public reason adds the rational and the reasonable (Rawls, 1993: XVIII, 49ff,54,81). The rational alludes to conceptions of good or comprehensive doctrines; the reasonable alludes to the political picture and is linked to comprehensive doctrines when compatible with the political notion of justice. These ideas of the rational and the reasonable are related to individuals’ moral powers, which are the sense of justice and the capacity for a conception of the good. Reasonable persons wish to cooperate with other reasonable persons who hold various reasonable doctrines according to terms on which they can all reasonably accept (Freeman,2003: 32). “Reasonable persons are capable of acting for the sake of a conception of justice (Rawls,1993: 81-82).

Precisely, the reason-emotion dialectic is captured by the Rawlsian notion of reflexive equilibrium, which implies constructing and adjusting the principles of justice. According to a perspective from the sentiments this is the product of mutual adjustment and enlargement of reason and affections. It is how one collectively argues about what should be a just political community (Rawls, 1999: 47-49). The reflexive equilibrium (Rawls, 2001: 29ff) begins with the idea that citizens have capacities of reason and a sense of justice (and if the latter is lacking, they do not have moral and natural attitudes such as love, trust, friendship, affection and devotion to institutions and traditions (Rawls, 1971: 539). Moral sentiments are congruent with natural attitudes (Rawls, 1971, 485ff) in that love of humanity and the desire to contribute to the common good include the principles of right and justice (Rawls, 1971: 489).

When Rawls speaks of humiliation and shame, he alludes to the question of having ends that appeal to the good and account for being part of humanity; to have a sense of guilt is to have a sense of justice that appeals to the just. The Harvard philosopher points out that the adequacy of moral sentiments to our nature is determined by the principles on which consensus would be reached in the original situation” (Rawls, 1971: 489-490). The outcome of this process must be acceptable to our rational and emotional questions, and not just any reason can function as justifying a given principle, law, or policy so that reasons must respect the freedom and fairness of all citizens. The same is true for emotions since only politically constructive emotions – such as those that have natural sympathy and empathy with our fellow citizens – are the legitimate basis for political obligation. In that sense, it is the natural feeling of empathy that motivates our attachment to legitimate principles of justice.  In this sense, Rawls argues that:

once the powers of understanding mature and people come to recognize their place in society and can take up the standpoint of others, they appreciate the mutual benefits of establishing fair terms of social cooperation. We have a natural sympathy for other persons and an innate susceptibility to the pleasures of fellow feeling and self-mastery. These provide the affective basis for the moral sentiments (Rawls, 1971:459, 460).

Thus, the principles of moral psychology have a specific place in Rawls’ conception of justice (Rawls, 1971: 32).

We can state that citizen commitment to the principles of justice and the sense of justice is conceived in the frameworks of political philosophy partly as the reflexive outgrowth of basic human emotions (Frazer, 2007:768), in addition to the conception of the good, which is an affective bond and a desire for fulfillment (Krause 366). The sense of justice is an affective bond with the idea of being a just person for the sake of justice. The sense of justice -to say of Rawls and Rousseau-is, is not a mere moral conception formed only by understanding (Rawls, 2001: 29). It is instead a true feeling of the heart illuminated by reason (Rawls, 1971: 463). This sense of justice is related to other moral sentiments and natural attitudes. There is a moral development that seeks the formation of affections as final objectives so that the acquisition of the sense of justice is generated through the development of knowledge and understanding; it is a conception of the social world and of what is just and unjust.

Rawls argues that a conception of justice is stable when institutions are just and states: “[…] those who participate in such arrangements acquire a corresponding sense of justice and a desire to participate in maintaining them” (Rawls, 1971: 398). And when there is public recognition of its realization in the social system, it tends to produce the corresponding sense of justice (Rawls, 1971: 177).  That coherence that seeks stability in a just society provides a basic framework for the activities of its members who recognize it as congruent with their interests and provides that this issue has a social and political dimension (Baldwin, 2008: 247). Therefore, the congruence sought between the just and the good is relevant since its characteristic idea delivers its for overlapping consensus (Rawls, 1993:170, 218). This category is very important for the idea of public reason (Rawls, 1993: 9ff) because the members of a well-ordered society share the same political conception of justice, even if they have different comprehensive theories.

Conceptions of justice are often influenced by the subjects’ own preferences and interests. Thus, individuals, whether they know it or not, tend to favor distributions that benefit them. The aim is to overcome this situation by establishing the principles that regulate collective life, ignoring individual circumstances. In his book, Political Liberalism, Rawls affirms that reasoned loyalty makes institutions stable and promotes democratic coexistence. Therefore, he demands the possibility of a lasting existence of society -just and stable- of free and equal citizens who are divided by reasonable religious, philosophical, and moral doctrines (Rawls, 1993: 4). Stability takes place because individuals tend to behave justly (Rawls, 1971: 398). Precisely, moral sensibility underlies the desire that there is a commitment to equal cooperation with the other members of society who, as equals, are reasonably expected to support each other in a mutual and cooperative manner (Rawls, 1993: 51).  The sense of justice is a disposition to act in accordance with the principles of justice, therefore, the fact of feeling guilt or shame when it is recognized that these principles have been violated. This shows the development of sentiments and judgments whose content is moral. For Rawls, our psychology is affected by the moral value of the context in which we grew up and live, as he points out in the three laws he postulates. They have to do with the formation of affections and reciprocity in family and social environments, where people develop friendly ties and trust when they fulfill their duties and obligations and live according to the ideals of their position, where those attitudes are fair and thus are recognized. Therefore, people acquire the sense of justice when recognized and appreciated (Rawls, 1971: 542). Rawls argues that the most notable feature of these laws is that their formulation refers to an institutional framework considered just and publicly recognized as such and that the principles of moral psychology have a place for this conception of justice. Thus, Rawls argues that a correct theory of politics in a just regime presupposes a theory of justice that explains how moral sentiments influence public affairs.

Rawls insists that his moral psychology obtained from the political conception of justice as fairness is a scheme of concepts and principles to express a particular political image of the person and an ideal of citizenship (Rawls, 1993: 86,87)[7].

Rawls adds that in addition to moral powers, a person must be thought of with the capacity to have even more dispositions, and among such capacities is the aspect of the reasonableness of persons as well as moral sensibility (Rawls, 1993: 81). These dispositions entail the ability to live in fair terms of cooperation, reasonably assuming that others will do their part and with a tendency to develop trust and confidence in them. This is manifested in the success of cooperative agreements.

The way stability is ensured through people’s sense of fairness; sentiments are strong enough to violate the rules and actions someone takes, and their sense of fairness governs their project. Mutual trust, friendship, and knowledge of a common sense of justice generate stability.

A benevolent act promotes the good of others (Rawls, 1971: 438) when it supposes a good for the other person but simultaneously supposes loss or risk for the agent; in these cases, we are dealing with supererogatory actions. These appear when benevolence, pity, and heroism are carried out (Rawls,1971:117). The domination of mutual disinterestedness through the veil of ignorance achieves the same purpose of benevolence. It is what makes that in the original position, each person takes into consideration the good of others (Rawls, 1971: 148). This benevolence sustains elements such as fraternity and solidarity articulated with the value of mutual commitment (Rawls, 1971: 175). The concept of fraternity has generally had less importance in democratic theories. However, for Rawls, the principle of difference provides an interpretation of the principle of fraternity because it expresses the idea of not wanting to have advantages unless it is for the benefit of the worst situated and their interest is promoted (Rawls, 1971: 106). Fraternity represents equality in social esteem and expresses a sense of civic friendship and moral solidarity (Rawls, 1971: 106). It is precise because it has been thought of with sentimental features that it is conceived as something not appropriate for political issues. But Rawls, with his bet of the difference principle, makes that feeling of the solidary fraternity present in the political sphere (Rawls, 1971: 106-107). This principle -articulated with the principle of fraternity- gives an account of a concern for the realization of the life of others and their projects, which implies the care of those others (Rawls, 1971: 106, 498, 499). It is care linked to affective issues that are adequate to politics sustained in reciprocity that strengthen self-esteem and recognition and to the union with others (Rawls, 1971: 498, 499).

In this framework of concerns, we can see that Rawls did not disaffect himself from the problems of care. It is appreciated especially in the second principle that appeals to respect for others, empathy, fraternity, and solidarity. In short, an approach is proposed to what would be the care for all, for me and others, to realize our projects. Hence, these categories support us as links with the ethics and philosophy of care. Thus, it is from these reflective findings that reality can be modified based on rational and emotional guidelines that account for approaches to care; hence, seeking justice from realistic and feasible proposals that can be applied politically has effects on the emergence of peace or political peace, and in the spaces of civic life.

Care as a political category that achieves justice and peace.

Care is conceived as a process and practice whose constant form impacts society in a framework that must be considered from the perspective of positive politics. It is also a form of vindication in a society that postulates the sustainability of life at the center. Thus, care involves “a capacity and a social activity that involves facilitating everything necessary for the well-being and prosperity of life” (The Care Collective, 2020: 12) in all human spheres. The term caring carries great weight and is complex because while it is common in everyday life, we nevertheless appreciate the effects of its absence. “While ways of caring can be identified, researched and understood concretely and empirically, care remains ambivalent in significance and ontology” (Puig de la Bellacasa, 2017:1) . Care implies various rationalities, issues, and practices in different contexts and with ethical, political, and cultural implications. For Tronto and Fischer, it involves everything we do to maintain, continue, and repair our world so that we can live in it as best we can do so (Puig de la Bellacasa, 2017: 3).

The concept of care (Tronto, 1994: 102) has implications for everything we do and relates to the maintenance aspects of care and the meaning of the ethics and politics of care. It is also linked to the pursuit of the good life and integrates the action of caring about and taking care of those supported by material practices (Tronto 1994, 105-8; Sevenhuisen 1998). The politics of care involve a moral gaze but incorporate the affective and the agencies of material and practical consequences.

The relocalization of care (Comins, 2009; Tronto, 2013), not only in the private but also in the public field, needs a solid infrastructure in the political and social areas. This is the only way to guarantee the organization of such care. In this organization, the advocates and caregivers are supported by values such as solidarity, justice, and compassion towards others who share this social network. Mutual support is based on solidarity, central to human, political, and social construction. Responsibility towards others and their needs are fundamental. We are dependent and vulnerable, and because of our relational condition, we can take care of ourselves, others, and the world. Thus, care is a moral orientation and a political and social practice that confronts us morally with the situations that occur in our existence. A world of solidarity precisely implies a concern for care among people, at different levels and in different ways, and seeks to transform our world through this care[8].

I think it is possible to affirm that care fundamentally supports the achievement of justice and peace. Hence, it is necessary to have a political order that considers emotions, affections, and rationality to implement care. The bets that can be proposed have to do with imaginaries of care, with realistic and factual imaginaries of forms of social and political construction of care, which welcome everyone. This is especially true given the situation of humanity in its precarious condition.

The need to take care of each other is a consequence of the mutual recognition implied by the common; ethical and community values such as fraternity, reciprocity, solidarity, and recognition are linked there. Mutual help from a sense of community makes conditions of precariousness and respect for dignity visible. Unsupportive actions significantly limit the common, causing injustices or allowing their presence and thus empowering various types of violence.

The care project must be an axis of political and existential character today as care crosses us in our daily life, involves all human beings, and recovers an integrating vision of human actions. It is possible to constitute the reflective aspect of the analysis of the needs of others. What is given has to be received, recognized, and thanked, adjusting this relationship in a communal ideological framework. These giving-receiving are aspects of an action. Hence the relevance of a “relationship of exchange [that] founds the human community” (De la Aldea, 2019: 15).

Care is inscribed in the networks of reciprocity that are centered on well-being. Still, they are not related to accumulation but to Aristotelian social love as an ideal collective organization that seeks common goals. Aristotle certainly does not speak of care, but he talks about the defense of the relationship between the rational and the passions, which must be balanced through phronesis, articulating the lucidity of emotionally adequate reason. That agape, as the love of care and benevolence implied in the forms of eudaimonia beyond the interpersonal, is a love that generates community, belonging, and help in groups of people united for mutual care and support. Self-care is connected to the idea of involvement with others, hence the need for mutual recognition. It is in the difference where the mutual involvement and the visibility of others are fundamental and where such care makes presence and unfolds fundamental for the realization of life.

Indeed, care has become an essential characteristic of transformative thinking, politics, and various forms of the organization seeking to implement change. The big problem is when it is manipulatively used as a commonplace in everyday moralizations, especially in the West and in the Global North (Puig de la Bellacasa, 2017: 8). But the issue of care must be problematized in order not to allow the permeation of conceptions that perpetuate inequalities and that do not allow to carry out collective changes. We seek to reappropriate and recover denied areas for this care that are at the basis of our living.

However, care is in a terrain of life that seems constantly reclaimed by idealized realms, even though it is located in the terrain of life. Care as a capacity and practice must be cultivated and shared insofar as it provides resources to remedy precariousness; this is done on an egalitarian basis, degenerating its procedure to reevaluate it by recognizing its importance and generalizing it to all the spaces of life (Comins, 2009:148ff). Hence, care is how we are claiming ourselves in a society that postulates the sustainability of life as a central point, as we pointed out above.

Talking about care can be done from dispositions and practical care (Tronto, 1994:118). But to consider care only as disposition means to place it only as an emotional element, which “allows care to be sentimentalized and romanticized” (Joan Tronto, 1994: 118). Thus, it is devalued and referred to as a private space with emotions and needs. At the same time, our society treats public space as a place where rationality and autonomy are realized as valuable qualities. Thus, care is devalued as being located in the opposite qualities, an important issue because we return to the traditionally gendered division on which the gendered ideological construction of care, rationality, and emotions is based. This ideology reinforces traditional gender roles (Tronto, 1994: 119). What is lost in this association is the reality of the competition of care and the fact that it is woven into the various aspects of life.

Tronto forcefully points out that dispositions and emotions are part of the care that practices require and that they seek to be realized in an applied manner. To avoid over-idealization of care, it is necessary to think of it in terms of being a practice (Ruddick,1989: 132-3), and this practice is thought of as a rational practice because the necessary parts are considered, considering the whole context of care. It must consider the needs of all parties, the concerns of the care receiver and the caregiver’s abilities, and the role of those being taking care of.

It is therefore essential to relocate care, i.e., to ensure that care also has a space in the public sphere (Comins, 2009; Tronto, 2013) and thus requires a social infrastructure that guarantees new systems of caregivers and the values it defends, such as solidarity, justice, and compassion towards others, i.e., towards those who make up the social fabric. Necessary ethical values are required to make life more balanced. The community is made with others, which implies supporting them, encouraging them to be better and have a better life together with us. That is why solidarity is fundamental, the attention to the other, the responsibility that implies account for my actions; the responsiveness that seeks answers, seeing that we are dependent and vulnerable, and our relational condition gives us the guideline to take care of ourselves, to take care of others and the world. Precisely care is a moral orientation. However it is a social practice that confronts us morally with the vicissitudes that occur in our existence. Acting together in a common, solid, committed action envisions all those beyond our proximity. In this process, it is approaching those on the margins, precarious, to give them recognition for their existence and to build with their processes of inclusion and equality through care. A world of solidarity implies a concern for care at different levels and forms. Tronto distinguishes between “caring to,” which implies the physical aspects of practical care, “caring with affection,” which describes our involvement and attachment to others, and “caring with,” which explains how we mobilize politically to transform our world (Tronto, 2013). Thus, caring accounts for the protection of people’s dignity and is, therefore, an ethical category in the face of society’s flaws. Even in dark and complicated times, it is necessary to care, and justice will be possible, and there will be possibilities of peace.

The lack of solidarity cancels the obligation to take care of ourselves, and it is the beginning of a procedure of recognition that must involve the common; there are ethical values such as respect, compassion, imagining ourselves in the place of others, caring for others, and nature. It is a commitment to mutual help with a sense of community, understanding the conditions of precariousness, and respect for dignity, to avoid the precariousness of people—the unsupportive limits the common by causing injustice or allowing its presence-.

Care is inscribed in the networks of reciprocity centered on well-being but is not related to accumulation but Aristotelian social love as an ideal of collective organization that seeks common goals. This agape as the love of care, beyond the interpersonal, is a love that generates community, belonging, and help in groups of people who unite to take care of each other.

In the absence of this bonding around the collective, given the exacerbated individualism and selfishness, these community expectations fade, and common practices are denied, canceling the possibilities of social cohesion. Care is how this social bond is created and repaired. That is why it is fundamental to work on restoring the primary value of care in different spheres, and it is ineluctable to claim the human constructions of basic coexistence. The community unites and amalgamates the variety of perspectives and behaviors without losing the richness of otherness and the differences they manifest. All this is under the assumption that life is sustained by trust (De la Aldea, 2019: 28). It is in the difference where mutual involvement, solidarity, recognition, and visibility of others, in plurality, is fundamental, and this must be achieved in symmetry, in horizontality and not in a logic of domination.

Phenomena such as pandemics, diseases, or migration have been part of human history. For this reason, the issue of care cannot be dissociated from these questions, as it highlights situations of maximum helplessness and visible precariousness, to the limiting degree that if care does not exist, there is hardly any possibility of a way out. In the case of migratory subjects, all but especially women and children are the defenseless ones who lack absolute recognition and protection (Cavarero,2009:59). The need for care is unquestionable, as well as the indispensable resources of care work. These seek to remedy structural violence and involve attitudes of gentleness, anticipation, gentleness, or availability that give an essential impetus to care. These gestures support care within the “discreet know-how” (Moliner, 1988). Care as a practice must be cultivated and shared insofar as it provides resources to remedy precariousness; this is done on an egalitarian and communitarian basis strengthened by solidarity and reciprocity (Comins, 2009:148ff).

The stakes that can be proposed have to do with imaginaries of care, with realistic and factual imaginaries of forms of social and political construction of care that embrace all human beings, especially those in situations of greater precariousness. This is why the Rawlsian principle of difference is so important: the forms of fraternity and solidarity are most strongly demanded by those who are worst off. Therefore, they are the ones who – even in the face of the principle of equality – must be supported first.

The political philosophies among which we can open the philosophy of care forces us to “critically imagine the world, postulating it in another way” (Butler, 2020: 126). The reflective work of recognition of otherness, which demands solidarity, reciprocity, and care, must show its urgency in the face of the violence and barbarism that we witness in societies such as the Mexican one.

By way of conclusion. Solidarity, reciprocity, and care: emotional categories and moral sentiments are fundamental to thinking, applying positive policies, and achieving peaceful situations.

The categories of solidarity, reciprocity, and care emanating from a sense of justice constitute conceptual axes of emotional roots central to thinking of a philosophy of peace. Reason and moral sentiments will allow us to transform violent realities thanks to political projects rooted in the reality that seeks justice.

Thus, solidarity, reciprocity, and care are part of the projects intended to be developed and encouraged within the framework of positive politics. They establish a demand that requires us to approach reality from the theoretical frameworks of political philosophy. Therefore, they are invaluable resources that compose views that face the urgencies we live in.

The support to the system’s most vulnerable and the most disadvantaged starts from a fraternal, solidary, and caring look. It allows us to think in open, general, and degenerated possibilities. Strong dispositions of cooperation, mutual identification, and common belonging are aroused and implied, even in the most individualistic communities (Crocker, 1977). These dispositions involve, on the one hand, rationality -which seeks the best and greatest goods- and on the other hand, the realization of desires and interests that give way to concern for others and, therefore, the development of cooperative actions that seek reciprocity, fraternity, and solidarity. These elements constitute moral sentiments that narrate, argue, and justify their presence, giving an account of a sense of justice that is common or collective.

The idea of public reason -thought of as a shared horizon of common concerns- is where reasoning and argumentation are incorporated, which, in addition to that reasoning, also include questions of sensibility, passions, and care; thus, the motivational element is maintained.

So, I think that it is feasible to propose the integral recovery of politics by overcoming the dichotomous polarization that incorporates reason and passions, sentiments, and emotions. With sentiments, politics is humanized because it generates situations of empathic consideration of others, so important in the construction of solidarity. We can witness indignation and compassion in the face of situations of injustice and cruelty, and thus they constitute fundamental resources for the construction of justice and peace. Emotions are shaped as explanatory and normative elements, and both realities, the rational and the emotive (with moral sentiments), collaborate in deliberation and political decisions.

In the face of socio-political interrelatedness and interdependence, diverse forms of care make life possible and enable life with others. This is “because care forces us to think concretely about people’s real needs, and about evaluating how these needs will be met” (Tronto, 1994:124). If emotions express situations of need and a lack of self-sufficiency, as Nussbaum (2001,19) points out, we can say that this is where the urgency of care is inserted. There is violence because basic needs are violated (Galtung, 2003: 178), and it expresses vulnerability. Thus, while vulnerability is a problem, however, it is also a resource for morality (Camps, 2011: 40), and in that sense, such vulnerability helps us to approach and solve questions of justice concretely (Tronto, 1994: 124). This gives an important place to care as an integral and political moral concept, as we have pointed out before with John Rawls. The route that Tronto proposes has to do with political (rather than economic) concerns and starts with the fact that human beings are caretakers, homines curans (sic[9]) (Tronto, 2017: 28).

Claiming that there is no practical reason without sentiments (Camps, 2011: 13) underpins what we have been arguing throughout this text, i.e., that reason has to articulate with sentiments to carry out moral actions. Furthermore, defending that emotions are the motive of action, implies pointing out that they are fundamental for ethical action and political activity (Camps,2011:14). The reactions generated by certain emotions such as anger, shame, despair, or indignation, are effects of a sensibility according to which there is attraction towards what is good and repulsion towards what is wrong, not only the knowledge of what we should do, what is allowed or forbidden, but also a knowledge of what is good to feel (Camps, 2011: 16). These are triggers of moral reflection and political action because “we react with rage when our sense of justice is offended” (Arendt, 1998: 163), that is, when injustices are appreciated (Rawls, 1971: 488,489). There are the motivations for action, in that relationship between reasons and emotions (and moral sentiments) so fundamental for political action.

The power of care is akin to notions such as fraternity and solidarity, which are expressed as political concepts and serve as a basis for political change. Therefore justice and care are actions that go hand in hand, contrary to what has been thought when it is stated that care is particular and justice universal or that care arises from compassion and justice from rationality. A theory of care is incomplete if it is not embedded in a theory of justice, and “justice without a notion of care is incomplete” (Tronto 1994: 167). Relying on Susan Okin, Tronto says, “it seems to argue that the kind of view of human nature inherent in the caring approach is necessary to remedy the defects of Rawls’s theory of justice” (Tronto 1994: 167). In fact, in the position I propose in this text, I defend that Rawls recognizes the importance of this care, especially in the second principle or principle of difference. This Rawlsian principle seems to demonstrate it and justifies the significance of relationality in the ontology of care. To assume these responsibilities in frameworks of democratic care, doing so as a practice for social life is of enormous relevance.

To say -as Rawls does- that people are mutually disinterested in the original position means that they are not selfish in terms of their benefits but are mutually committed -as they are interdependent-thus linked to care.

Therefore, and after what has been said, justice and care are mutually related. They are complementary and link the actions of fraternity and solidarity. Care as a political concept turns out to be of undeniable preeminence, given the mutual implications between people who care for themselves and others. This is achieved with citizens attentive to the needs of others, thinking of themselves as more democratic citizens. In this way, care becomes a significant category in public life and focuses us on the issue of human needs. Hence, it is fundamental to note the questioning of justice to determine the needs to be satisfied. Justice and care are ideals of political life and constitute a way to achieve a more realistic form of democratic citizenship. Therefore, care (Tronto, 1994: 172) and moral sentiments such as fraternity, solidarity possess a value that must be placed in our constellation of political concerns. If this is so, these central actions in human life must be made visible in political and social institutions to make them a reality. The ethics of care establishes principles, but this does not mean explaining the principles of the ethics of justice. Gilligan argues that an ethics of justice proceeds from the premise of equality. In contrast, an ethics of care is based on propositions that allude to non-violence and not harming anyone (Gilligan, 1985, 281).

Finally, and in sum, this text has sought to present some reflections on the construction of a philosophy of peace through reason and moral sentiments through a joint proposal from Rawlsian theory and the philosophy of care. These ideas can be implemented in our contexts and can become positive politics, even knowing that they are based on the constructions of political philosophy. Since its origins, the latter has sought to modify and transform reality to live better. Political ideals have sought possibilities to change the violent scenarios in which we live and are therefore indispensable to building peaceful and caring societies through reason, emotions, and moral sentiments.



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[1] This is how Ben Rogers put it in his Obituary of John Rawls (Rogers, 2002).

[2] From these criticisms to the theory of justice as fairness it is pointed out that the principles of moral psychology fail to explain the motivation to act according to the principles of justice (Pritchard,M., 1977.) For Rawls’ consideration, this motivation is the desire to act with principles that rational individuals would agree from a fair position of equality (Freeman, 2003: 282).

[3] Rawls points out the three psychological laws in section 75, when he speaks of the stability of justice as fairness, in the light of moral development. The first law is expressed by the love of the parents for the child and they show their affection, and the child recognizes that affection and comes to love them. The second, which is a person’s capacity for sympathy, is ascertained by the acquisition of affection, given by the first law. And if the social order is just, he develops bonds of friendly sentiments and trust with others with whom he is associated, who fulfill duties and obligations and live according to ideals. These are more solid adhesions. The third law indicates that when that capacity of sympathy of a person has been proven through the formation of affections (1st and 2nd law) and given that the institutions are just and recognized by all as just, then that person acquires the corresponding sense of justice when he recognizes that he and those he esteems are beneficiaries of those dispositions (Rawls, 1971:490-491).

[4] Rawls points out that his theory of justice “is a theory of moral sentiments (recalling an Eighteenth century title) which sets forth the principles that govern our moral powers or, more specifically, our sense of justice” (John Rawls,1979: 51).

[5] The relationship between reflective equilibrium and the sense of justice is complex, as many Rawlsian concepts and lends itself to varied interpretations, from what is the same reflective equilibrium, and so states Rawls when he affirms: “There are, however, several interpretations of reflective equilibrium” (Rawls, 1971: 49).  The consideration that we raise in this writing that sustains the connection between reflective equilibrium and sense of justice is sustained with the enunciation of Rawls who points out that “From the standpoint of moral philosophy, the best account of a person’s sense of justice is not the one which fits his judgements prior to his examining any conception of justice, but rather the one which matches his judgements in reflective equilibrium” (Rawls, 1971: p.48).

[6] In addition, he uses scenarios such as the assumption of a well-ordered society, which allows all citizens to accept the same principles of justice; he also maintains that the basic institutions of society must carry out those principles (Rawls, 1971:18).

[7] In the final section of Political Liberalism (&8) Rawls inserts a title that reads “Moral psychology: philosophical not psychological” (Rawls, 1993:86). This heading intends to point out that this is “a moral psychology obtained from the political conception of justice as fairness” (Rawls 1993: 86) and although it seems contradictory, it intends to insist on its political roots.

[8] Tronto distinguishes between “caring to” which involves the physical aspects of practical care, “caring with affection” which describes our involvement and attachment to others, and “caring with” which describes how we mobilize politically to transform our world (Tronto, 2013, 106ff ).

[9] Tronto uses homines curans, while Latinists point out that <<homines curans>> is grammatically incorrect because it violates number agreement between the noun and the adjective (in this case it is a participle).  It is sufficient to say <<homo curans>> as has been done in other cases. If you put <<homines>> you must use the plural <<curans>>. If you want to follow the logic that was used in the scientific name <<Homo sapiens>>> it is enough to say <<homo curans>>. If the verb curans means to take care of, to be concerned about, to look after, to attend to, to attend to, to comfort, to procure, to cure, in the sense of caring people used by Tronto, then <<homo curans>> would be translated as a person who cares, who worries, who attends. I am grateful for the help and comments of Professor Alexis Hellmer.