Mad Mothers, Bad Mothers, And What A Good Mother Would Do: The Ethics of Ambivalence

Paperback | April 29, 2014

bySarah LaChance Adams

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When a mother kills her child, we call her a bad mother, but, as this book shows, even mothers who intend to do their children harm are not easily categorized as "mad" or "bad." Maternal love is a complex emotion rich with contradictory impulses and desires, and motherhood is a conflicted state in which women constantly renegotiate the needs mother and child, the self and the other.

Applying care ethics philosophy and the work of Emmanuel Levinas, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Simone de Beauvoir to real-world experiences of motherhood, Sarah LaChance Adams throws the inherent tensions of motherhood into sharp relief, drawing a more nuanced portrait of the mother and child relationship than previously conceived. The maternal example is particularly instructive for ethical theory, highlighting the dynamics of human interdependence while also affirming separate interests. LaChance Adams particularly focuses on maternal ambivalence and its morally productive role in reinforcing the divergence between oneself and others, helping to recognize the particularities of situation, and negotiating the difference between one's own needs and the desires of others. She ultimately argues maternal filicide is a social problem requiring a collective solution that ethical philosophy and philosophies of care can inform.

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When a mother kills her child, we call her a bad mother, but, as this book shows, even mothers who intend to do their children harm are not easily categorized as "mad" or "bad." Maternal love is a complex emotion rich with contradictory impulses and desires, and motherhood is a conflicted state in which women constantly renegotiate th...

Sarah LaChance Adams is assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin, Superior, and the coeditor of Coming to Life: Philosophies of Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Mothering.

other books by Sarah LaChance Adams

New Philosophies of Sex and Love
New Philosophies of Sex and Love

Kobo ebook|Nov 30 2016

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:April 29, 2014Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231166753

ISBN - 13:9780231166751

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments1. Mad Mothers, Bad Mothers, and What a "Good" Mother Would Do2. The Mother as Ethical Exemplar in Ethics3. Motherhood's Janus Head4. Maternity as Vulnerability in the Philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas5. Maternity as Dehiscence in the Flesh in the Philosophy of Maurice Merleau-Ponty6. Maternity as Negotiating Mutual Transcendence in the Philosophy of Simone de BeauvoirConclusion: The Stranger of My Flesh-an Existential Phenomenological EthicsNotesBibliographyIndex

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Sarah LaChance Adams draws on phenomenological and existentialist theory, feminist thought, the life sciences, qualitative research, poetry, and cultural observation in order to paint a textured picture of motherhood as an ethically complex status fraught with ambiguity. Refreshingly avoiding both romanticism and social hysteria, this book is an invaluable addition to the burgeoning philosophical literature on motherhood.