Category Archives: Role Ethics

New edited collection on role ethics

Routledge has published a collection of essays on role ethics edited by Tim Dare and Christine Swanton, which includes two essays on early Confucian ethics. More information is here.

The publisher’s description is as follows:

Although our moral lives would be unrecognisable without them, roles have received little attention from analytic moral philosophers. Roles are central to our lives and to our engagement with one another, and should be analysed in connection with our core notions of ethics such as virtue, reason, and obligation.

This volume aims to redress the neglect of role ethics by confronting the tensions between conceptions of impartial morality and role obligations in the history of analytic philosophy and the Confucian tradition. Different perspectives on the ethical significance of roles can be found by looking to debates within professional and applied ethics, by challenging existing accounts of how roles generate reasons, by questioning the hegemony of ethical reasons, and by exploring the relation between expertise and virtue. The essays tackle several core questions related to these debates:

What are roles and what is their normative import?
To what extent are roles and the ethics of roles central to ethics as opposed to virtue in general, and obligation in general?
Are role obligations characteristically incompatible with ordinary morality in professions such as business, law, and medicine?
How does practical reason function in relation to roles?
Perspectives in Role Ethics is an examination of a largely neglected topic in ethics. It will appeal to a broad range of scholars in normative ethics, virtue ethics, non-Western ethics, and applied ethics interested in the importance of roles in our moral life.

Book: The Global Encyclopedia of Informality

 

While scouring the web for freebies this morning, I came across something that may be of interest to many readers here: The Global Encyclopedia of Informality, University College London, 2018, in two volumes.

http://oapen.org/search?identifier=642570;keyword=informality

 

Here’s the table of contents for Volume 1:

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Who’s Which? Which What?

My guess, really just a guess, is that the discussion of role ethics or relational ethics might benefit from some direct attention to a couple of fallacies available for commission—one minor, one major.  I don’t know whether they’re actually committed or directly discussed in the literature.  Possible examples of each can be found in Henry Rosemont’s essay “Rights-Bearing Individuals and Role-Bearing Persons” (in Mary Bockover, ed., Rules, Rituals, and Responsibility: Essays Dedicated to Herbert Fingarette, Open Court 1991, pp. 71-101).  I’ll make that my text.  I don’t understand it.

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Confucianism and Household Servants?

This post expands a question I asked once in the old Discussions section.

It is sometimes said that the (or a) Ruist picture of moral psychology stresses family because Ruists stress the development of moral sensibilities starting with people’s earliest relationships, which are their childhood relationships at home.  So … what about household servants?

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New Book: Sibau, Reading for the Moral

SUNY has published Maria Franca Sibau, Reading for the Moral: Exemplarity and the Confucian Moral Imagination in Seventeenth-Century Chinese Short Fiction. A new perspective that should shed light on discussions of roles, roles ethics, virtue ethics, and exemplarity! More info is here or below.

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Two Concepts of Roles

There are many images and metaphors that might serve as cores of conceptions of something for which one could use the English word “role.”  One way to look for some is to look at words from other languages.  I’ll look here at two, one from Greek and one from old Chinese.

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Confucius on the family as model

Many hold that for Confucius the family is the model for organized political society in some sense; that Confucius regarded the norms for relations beyond the family as largely based on the norms for relations with kin.  Here I follow Joseph Chan in challenging that view.

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The meaning of Analects 2.21

Someone said to Confucius, “Master, why don’t you engage in government?” The Master said, “The Book of Documents says, ‘Filial! But be filial, and a friend to your brothers, thus contributing to government.’ Why then do that other kind of ‘engaging in government’?”

或謂孔子曰:「子奚不為政?」子曰:「《》云:『孝乎惟孝、友于兄弟,施於有政。』是亦為政,奚其為為政?」

I’ll suppose for the sake of argument that the reported exchange is authentic, and argue that it is not significant evidence of Confucius’ views.  Confucius is not aiming to communicate his views here.

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Is Analects 1.2 about family?

Here are some reasons to think that Youzi did not regard family as the root of humanity or of the Way.  (I used to think he did.)

Most of my argument focuses on defending a view held by Soothill, Leys, Chin, and maybe Lau and Slingerland: that by 弟 in Analects 1.2, Youzi meant elder-respect, a virtue commonly associated specifically with life outside the family.  It would follow that according to 1.2, only one of the two parts of the root of humanity is specifically a family virtue.  If 孝 and 弟 have something relevantly in common for Youzi, family isn’t it.

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