Virtue ethics and the chinese confucian tradition

Research output: Chapters, Conference Papers, Creative and Literary Works (RGC: 12, 32, 41, 45)12_Chapter in an edited book (Author)peer-review

15 Scopus Citations
View graph of relations

Related Research Unit(s)

Detail(s)

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge companion to virtue ethics
EditorsDaniel C. Russell
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages49-69
ISBN (Electronic)9780511734786, 0511734786
ISBN (Print)0521171741, 9780521171748, 1107001161, 9781107001169, 9781107001169 
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Publication series

NameCambridge companions to philosophy

Abstract

My primary aims are to introduce representative examples of thinkers from different periods within the Chinese Confucian tradition who advocated forms of virtue ethics, Mengzi 孟子 (“Mencius,” 391-308 BCE) and Wang Yangming 王陽明 (1472-1529), and to use their views to suggest a way to distinguish distinct types of virtue ethical theory. Mengzi and Wang are among the most famous and influential Confucian philosophers in the Chinese tradition; their philosophies are complex, rich, and powerful and represent different and important aspects of virtue ethical theory. In many ways, Mengzi seems to advocate the kind of theory one finds in thinkers like Aristotle, whose conception of virtue is connected to a theory about human nature and a related view of human flourishing described in terms of an ideal agent. I will refer to this type of theory as virtue ethics of flourishing (VEF). On the other hand, parts of Mengzi's view, particularly his emphasis on the role of the emotions and empathy, reveal significant similarities with thinkers like Hume and other sentimentalists, who describe the virtues primarily in terms of certain broadly construed emotions. I will refer to this type of theory as virtue ethics of sentiments (VES). Wang Yangming appears to be even closer to Hume and other sentimentalists; nevertheless, Wang's form of virtue ethics is more like Aristotle's in relying upon a theory about human nature and a conception of human flourishing described in terms of an ideal agent. These similarities and differences explain why contemporary philosophers have disagreed about the true nature of Mengzi's and Wang's forms of virtue ethics. I hope to describe distinct types of virtue ethical theory that will allow us to settle such disagreements.

Citation Format(s)

Virtue ethics and the chinese confucian tradition. / IVANHOE, Philip J.

The Cambridge companion to virtue ethics. ed. / Daniel C. Russell. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2013. p. 49-69 (Cambridge companions to philosophy).

Research output: Chapters, Conference Papers, Creative and Literary Works (RGC: 12, 32, 41, 45)12_Chapter in an edited book (Author)peer-review