Date of Thesis

Spring 2020


This thesis examines both classical liberalism and the ethic of care as two apparently contradictory yet ultimately compatible political theories. Liberalism on its own is both normatively and practically unsatisfactory for its emphasis on individuals as entirely independent and self-interested. The ethic of care presents an alternative conception of the individual as a part of complex networks of relations in which we are all both dependent on and responsible for others. Through this framework of care, liberal values such as equality and autonomy can be presented as goals to be worked towards rather than assumed truths. Care as a political practice unites us as individuals by presenting our interests as mutual rather than competing.

To demonstrate the political value of care, I focus on the specific right of autonomy and argue for a more holistic conception of autonomy that includes the body as the medium through which we exercise our freedom. I analyze the body as a product of social construction and make an argument for care as an ethic through which bodies that have been harmed by social construction can seek the justice and respect that they deserve.


liberalism, ethic of care, feminist jurisprudence, social construction, autonomy, bodily autonomy

Access Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

Second Major


First Advisor

Amy McCready

Second Advisor

Christina Xydias