Best Caring Ethics

Outline of this Philosophy

Best caring ethics may also be called simply “best caring” since any normal human’s best caring will perhaps be ethical in nature. It is a theory developed by Dr. David Sztybel, the author of this peace philosophy web. Best caring also bases ethics on compassion, but not just on how people happen to care. Rather, best caring aims for what is best like utilitarianism although utilitarianism aims for the best in a different way. Best caring considers what is best to be what is best for you, me, this individual, that individual, and so on, up to and including all sentient beings involved (a sentient being is simply an entity who is capable of feeling pleasure or pain). Thus what is best for each individual counts. By contrast, for utilitarians, what is best is “overall” and so the good of many people may be thought to “outweigh” benefits, or the right not to be harmed, for individuals or minorities. This means that best caring upholds the rights of each individual, and affords us a different basis for rights than the standard rights theories. It is best for everyone, on this theory, if we go by rights reasoning, implementing rights where possible, but in certain dilemmas, such as when we can only pull one of two beings from a burning building, we must employ rights-overriding reasoning, and choose as best we can. For example, saving a child instead of someone who is about to die anyway may lead to more good and less harm. Thus rights are based on equality, rights for all, and non-violence, but rights-overriding reasoning might allow some inequality, overriding of rights, and only minimal violence. Yet it is best for everyone to uphold rights reasoning normally, and it would only be best for some individuals to override rights if that is not absolutely necessary or unavoidable. We should ideally promote what is best for everyone or what is best in general. What is best is aimed for because it is impossible to aim for anything better than what is best, and aiming for anything different seems worse or less good/more bad by comparison. Best caring values must be consistent with what is best, and ideally the best is all-good, and not at all bad. This produces an aversion to harming above all. Also, it does not allow hedonistic or preferentialist values we have seen utilitarianism features, since the latter forms of value invite us to affirm as good even sadistic pleasures or preferences. Best caring values reject sadism, because that is avoidably bad, and therefore inconsistent with what is best for all individuals. As attractive as best caring may or may not seem, we will see that it is not without limitations or possible disadvantages.

Note: For more on how best caring pertains to animals, see “Extending Peace to Animals?” also featured on this website.


  1. What are some possible reasons in favour of adopting best caring as a guide to peace and conflict?

  2. What are some possible reasons against adopting best caring as a guide to peace and conflict?

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