How can we consider human subjectivity as ethical, granted that human beings are essentially interdependent, self-opaque, vulnerable and ambivalent in their attitudes? The aim of this paper is to tackle the question against the background of the relational notion of subjectivity developed in the ethics of care. First, we analyse Carol Gilligan’s theory of moral development and focus on its underlying notion of relational subjectivity. Further, we revise some of Gilligan’s ideas with the help of the object relations theory and Donald Winnicott’s concept of the transitional area of play in particular. Finally, we show how Winnicott’s view of the role of play in human development, especially its capacity to be transformative, joyful, binding and critical, enriches the notion of relational subjectivity and its ethical implications as studied by care ethicists.
Carol Gilligan, Donald Winnicott, Ethics of care, Moral subjectivity, Object relations theory, Psychoanalysis, Theory of emotional development, Theory of moral development