Which care? Whose responsibility? And why family? A Confucian account of long-term care for the elderly

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-517
Journal / PublicationJournal of Medicine and Philosophy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2007


Across the world, socio-economic forces are shifting the locus of long-term care from the family to institutional settings, producing significant moral, not just financial costs. This essay explores these costs and the distortions in the role of the family they involve. These reflections offer grounds for critically questioning the extent to which moral concerns regarding long-term care in Hong Kong and in mainland China are the same as those voiced in the United States, although family resemblances surely exist. Chinese moral values such as virtue and filial piety embedded in a Confucian moral and social context cannot be recast without distortion in terms of modern Western European notions. The essay concludes that the Confucian resources must be taken seriously in order to develop an authentic Chinese bioethics of long-term care and a defensible approach to long-term care policy for contemporary society in general and Chinese society in particular. Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Research Area(s)

  • Confucian morality, Family values, Filial piety, Long-term care