Exploration of Ethical Debates through Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss, Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and Smith’s On Beauty
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This essay examines debates over alternative ethical formulations that break from the Kantian model through contemporary fiction—Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss (2006), Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go (2005) and Zadie Smith’s On Beauty (2005). The essay returns to the theory, the ethics of care, put forward by Carol Gilligan in In a Different Voice (1982), which has regained significance in the context of questions surrounding care in contemporary ethical thinking. While the three novels are concerned with ideas of care, beauty, justice and the tyranny of the mainstream, this essay examines particular themes in particular texts which suggest that ideas with otherwise subversive potential—like care or beauty or justice—lose their radicalism when they are incorporated within the impersonal, masculinist mainstream. Carol Gilligan’s feminine ethics of care, with its respect for the particular, is not only still important as the stimulus to thinking about alternatives to overarching ethical discourses, but it could also re-confer these concepts of care, beauty and justice their revolutionary potential.
KeywordsEthics Care Gilligan Ishiguro Desai Smith
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