Caring and the Law

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Book Review


Jonathan Herring, in his book Caring and the Law, contends that the law does not properly recognize the importance of caring, and, instead, tends to isolate, disregard, or undermine both those who provide care and the relationships where caring occurs. Herring tackles this problem using the philosophical theory of the ethics of care to analyze the legal system.

One of his overarching concerns is that, in both the United States and England, where the book was published, we tend to view both health law and bioethics through a lens that values autonomy above all.

In this book, Herring takes on a formidable task, or, rather, a series of formidable tasks. In the first three chapters of this book, he defines the philosophical concept of the ethics of care, and he does so from the perspective of a lawyer, directly confronting highly fraught philosophical and legal issues that can arise within this ethical framework. The remaining six chapters endeavor to cover an extraordinary breadth of specific legal areas where the ethics of care has work it can do. These areas range from structuring state support systems for the disabled, to family law, torts, international human rights, and rationing of healthcare. While the focus of the book is on the law in England, there are enough similarities to the United States to make this an interesting tour de force for readers in this country, oftentimes pointing out conflicts and problems that easily can escape a legal mind unaccustomed to focusing on caring as a legal issue.


Published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Legal Medicine.