Shannon Vallor, Technology and the Virtues: A Philosophical Guide to a Future Worth Wanting (Oxford, 2016) has just been published; information here. The book draws on Aristotelian, Confucian, and Buddhist virtue ethics as it explores a path toward a “future worth living.”
Confucius’ remark at Analects 1.6 is often cited to show that he thought proper moral development begins with filial piety and then extends that attitude to ever-larger groups of people (ever less intensely). I shall argue that the remark does not display such a view. Confucius did not in general envision moral progress as extension.
Continue reading “Analects 1.6, and how Confucius envisioned moral progress”
Owen Flanagan and Wenqing Zhao write…
As part of our Templeton-St. Louis funded “Varieties of Well-Being” project, Owen Flanagan and Wenqing Zhao are inaugurating an international blog on well-being in different cultural traditions. We desire to engage in public outreach and to advance the cause of cross-cultural philosophy of well-being. In addition, we seek to help create a passion among people in and outside academia for learning from, not just about, other traditions. An international blog on comparative well-being is designed to share the fruit of the project with broader, international audiences.
We hereby invite you, as someone with experience of multicultural worlds, to write a short essay (200-450 words) on well-being that involves a comparative or cross-cultural aspect. It can be based on your own cultural experience or something that you have observed; a story, a moment or a piece of thought that showcases the variety of cultural norms for living a good life. Details follow below!
Continue reading “Call for short essays on new International Blog “Varieties of Well-Being””
Did Confucius think that if one of us has general virtue, or some particular virtue such as courage or filial piety, that general or particular virtue will have a substantial tendency to spread directly to the people around her, even if she holds no government position?
Here I’ll survey Confucius’ statements in the Analects and conclude that the answer is No. Confucius probably did not hold that view. (I gave the opposite reading in both my published papers on Chinese philosophy.)
Continue reading “Did Confucius think our virtues are contagious?”
Mat Foust has published a review of Stephen C. Angle and Michael Slote, eds., Virtue Ethics and Confucianism (Routledge, 2013) in the Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies. The full text of the review is available on-line here (look for “Book Review 4”). Thanks, Mat!
With the support of the John Templeton Foundation, and subject to a final grant agreement, the University of Connecticut’s Humanities Institute announces a funding proposal competition of $2 million dollars to support interdisciplinary research projects on intellectual humility and its role in promoting meaningful public discourse. The deadline for letters of intent is May 1st 2016.
Topical areas of focus include both the barriers that prevent people from engaging in constructive, reason-based dialogue, conducted with intellectual humility, regarding culturally divisive issues, as well as scalable models or other interventions that may be effective or ineffective in promoting this sort of talk.
In addition, applications are being accepted for both residential and non-residential fellowships for work relevant to the project’s aims. The deadline for residential fellowship applications is April 15th 2016; non-residential fellowship applications will be considered on a rolling basis.
Full details can be found at: http://publicdiscourseproject.uconn.edu/.
I was intrigued by Brandon Warmke’s recent review in NDPR of Judith Andre’s book Worldly Virtue: Moral Ideals and Contemporary Life. Apparently Andre makes considerable (and self-aware) use of Buddhist ideas as she argues that “the realities of our contemporary world require us both to re-interpret traditional virtues and to recognize new ones altogether.” Take a look!
Erica Lucast Stonestreet’s review at NDPR of Nancy E. Snow (ed.), Cultivating Virtue: Perspectives from Philosophy, Theology, and Psychology (Oxford University Press, 2015) highlights Ted Slingerland’s contribution to the volume, nicely bringing Chinese philosophy into this broader conversation.
Kenneth Winston of Harvard’s Kennedy School writes:
I am pleased to announce the publication of my book “Ethics in Public Life: Good Practitioners in a Rising Asia” from Palgrave Macmillan. The book is a set of five case studies of practitioners in different Asian countries making life-defining decisions in their work. They include a doctor in Singapore, a political activist in India, a mid-level bureaucrat in central Asia, a religious missionary in China, and a journalist in Cambodia—each struggling with ethical challenges that shed light on what it takes to act effectively and well in public life.
Continue reading “New Book: Ethics in Public Life in Asia”
Xiaomei Yang’s review of Stephen C. Angle (Ph.D, 1994) and Michael Slote, eds., Virtue Ethics and Confucianism has appeared in the most recent issue of Ethics, Vol. 125,# 1, 2014.
Joseph’s Chan’s feature review of my book Contemporary Confucian Political Philosophy: Toward Progressive Confucianism has just appeared in Philosophy East and West, Vol. 64,#3,2014, as well as two follow-ups:
- Joseph Chan. “’Self-Restriction’ and the Confucian Case for Democracy.”
- Stephen C. Angle. “Sages and Self-Restriction: A Response to Joseph Chan.”
- Joseph Chan. “Reply to Stephen C. Angle.”
Hagop Sarkissian’s review of Virtue Ethics and Confucianism (Routledge, 2013) has been published at NDPR. Comments on the review or the book itself are welcome! I will also paste the review below. Thanks, Hagop!
Continue reading “Review of Virtue Ethics and Confucianism at NDPR”
The latest issue of the Research Newslatter of the Institute of Chinese Literature and Philosophy at the Academia Sinica has a special section on my 2009 book Sagehood. The issue (and all articles), including my reply to the various perspectives offered, is available here. I will also paste the Table of Contents below. My thanks to Fabien Heubel and Kai Marchal for organizing and editing this issue!
Continue reading “Taiwanese Journal Discussion of Sagehood”
I am very happy to announce the 2nd Rutgers Workshop on Chinese Philosophy, which will be held on Friday, April 11, on the topic “Xunzi on Authority.” Four scholars of Chinese philosophy will present papers, each followed by a critical commentary from a member of the Rutgers University Philosophy Department. Attendance (including lunch) is free but requires an advance RSVP so that we know how much food to get. Please read on for details!
Continue reading “2nd Rutgers Workshop on Chinese Philosophy”
PJ Ivanhoe and the Center for East Asian and Comparative Philosophy at City University of Hong Kong have been awarded a John Templeton Foundation Grant for a project on “Eastern and Western Conceptions of Oneness, Virtue, and Human Happiness.” For more information, check out their website. Congratulations!
Shame is an important idea in Confucianism, as several blog readers and contributors have noted. From the following review, it sounds like the position of this book’s authors might resonate well with Confucian perspectives in several respects (though the perspective of the reviewer might come even closer!).
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
2013.08.35 View this Review Online View Other NDPR Reviews
Julien A, Deonna, Raffaele Rodogno, and Fabrice Teroni, In Defense of Shame: The Faces of an Emotion, Oxford University Press, 2012, 268pp., $55.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780199793532.
Reviewed by Jason A. Clark, Institute for Cognitive Science, University of Osnabrueck
Continue reading “Review of Book on Shame”
Scott Barnwell’s essay “The Evolution of the Concept of De 德 in Early China,” has been published, as Sino-Platonic Paper 235. (Direct link to PDF here.) Congratulations, Scott! Here’s the first paragraph:
The present research paper explores the semantic space occupied by the ancient Chinese concept of De 德 over time. As Confucius observed in the epigraph, few people seemed to understand it in his day and many still do not today. In this paper, we will examine the various connotations conveyed by the word in the earliest written material — bronze inscriptions from the eleventh century B.C.E. — to the Han Dynasty (漢, 202 B.C.E. – 220 C.E.): roughly the first one thousand years. As it is a research paper, there will be no sustained argument defending some thesis, as is expected in a philosophy paper. It is rather a comprehensive, exploratory, educational tour of the semantic field of De in early Chinese literature. The critical reader should adjust his expectations accordingly.
I am happy to report that the book that Michael Slote and I have been editing, Virtue Ethics and Confucianism, will see the light of day before too many more months pass. Routledge now has a webpage for the book which includes its cover, table of contents, and so on, and it can even be pre-ordered. For those of you who are neither independently wealthy nor buyers for academic libraries (i.e., virtually anyone reading this), please be assured that a more reasonably-priced paperback edition will be forthcoming in a couple more years.
Virtues: Intellectual and Moral — An International Workshop
April 2, 2013, 4:15–6:30pm, Wesleyan University, Russell House (350 High Street, Middletown, CT)
Three philosophers based in Taiwan will present papers exploring different aspects of intellectual and practical virtue, each paper followed by comments from a member of the Wesleyan Philosophy Department, with general discussion at the end. The event is free and open to all. Please contact Lynn Higgs with any questions.
Continue reading “Workshop at Wesleyan on Virtues: Intellectual and Moral”
One key to successful comparative philosophical research is locating an area in where there is sufficient overlap between different traditions’ approaches that each can see the other as generating relevant challenges or questions, stimulating new ways of framing issues, and so on. I would argue that the “virtue ethics” paradigm has been successful in just this way, bringing together an increasing number of Anglophone and Sinophone philosophers and philosophical projects in fruitful fashion, as judged by the interesting, explicitly work that is being generated by Anglophone scholars (including those with little prior background in Chinese and Chinese philosophy) and some Sinophone thinkers (including those with little prior background in Western philosophy).
Another possible area of overlap and mutual stimulus — though it remains to be seen whether it will generate a similar level of fruitfulness — is virtue epistemology; Michael Chien-kuo Mi and colleagues at Soochow University in Taiwan have been collaborating with Ernie Sosa of Rutgers University and some other Western-trained philosophers in this endeavor.
What I mainly wanted to call attention to here, though, is a third area. The recent APA conference featured a panel (sponsored by the APA Committee on the Status of Asian and Asian-American Philosophers and Philosophies) on “Asian/Comparative Views of the Embodied and Enactive Mind.” Drawing on Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism, as well as on various streams of philosophy of mind, cognitive science, and phenomenology, the panelists (Bongrae Seok, Matthew MacKenzie, and Bradley Park) made it eminently clear that there is a major area of overlap and many opportunities for mutual stimulus and learning. I was also struck by the fact that a successful NEH Summer Institute was held last summer on this topic; looking at the range of participants and faculty, it is again clear that there is a lot of room for exciting growth in this area of comparative philosophy.
This article should be of interest to many. (Thanks to Patrick O’Donnell for the pointer!) Comments welcome.
In case you are not tired of thinking about the issues raised by Henry Rosemont’s and Roger Ames’s defense of “role ethics,” I’d like to offer one more perspective on the matter. Rosemont and Ames see Confucian role ethics as a full-scale replacement to the current moral theories on offer, which in their writings seem to be consequentialism, Kantian deontology, and Aristotelian virtue ethics. As Bill Haines suggested in a comment to a previous post on this subject, some readers of Aristotle find the version of Aristotle that is rejected by Rosemont and Ames to be a caricature, but I am going to set that issue to the side and look at the possible value of recasting the ideas and values driving Confucian role ethics as a version of a broad notion of virtue ethics. Continue reading “Role ethics as virtue ethics?”
The ISCP has announced their sponsored panel at this December’s Eastern Division APA meeting in Atlanta: Continue reading “ISCP Panel at Eastern APA”
The three-day conference and book symposium “Virtue and Luck: Virtue Theory and Chinese Philosophy” has now concluded, and I thought I might offer a summary and some thoughts. The idea that linked together the three quite distinct days’ activities was “virtue,” East and West, in ethics and in epistemology, pro and con. Continue reading “Soochow/Academia Sinica Conference Report”
The excellent ethics blog PEA Soup hosts a public discussion of one article per issue of Ethics, and starting March 30 the discussion will feature Ted Slingerland’s “The Situationist Critique and Early Confucian Virtue Ethics,” which is now freely available (as part of an arrangement between the blog and Ethics). Double-congratulations to Ted (for the essay in Ethics, and for it being chosen for this discussion)!
UPDATE: the actual url for the discussion is here.
Section 5B/4 of the Mencius is a very interesting text. It’s one of the points at which the Mencius gets defensive about Mencius’s personal virtue. The issue here is Mencius’s willingness to accept gifts from rulers who acquired them by taking from their people. Why accept those gifts, given that you wouldn’t accept gifts from a more everyday sort of bandit?
This passage interests me in part because I’m interested in Mencian defensiveness (on which see also the earlier thread about Shun and his awful family). But that’s not the issue I want to take up here. What I’m wondering about is how (if at all) Mencius’s argument is supposed to work. Continue reading “Kings and Thieves”
The Character Project at Wake Forest University is very excited to launch its funding competition entitled “New Frontiers in the Philosophy of Character.” This $300,000 RFP is aimed at work in philosophy on the topic of character, and proposals can request between $40,000 and $100,000 for projects not to exceed one year in duration. Continue reading “Funding Opportunity: Character Project at Wake Forest”
CALL FOR PAPERS
Virtue and Luck: Virtue Theory and Chinese Philosophy
International Conference and Book Symposium
Hosted by the Department of Philosophy, Soochow University, Taiwan
Co-hosted by the Institute of Chinese Literature and Philosophy, Academia Sinica, and the Department of Philosophy, Huafan University.
June 02 ~ June 04, 2011, Taipei, Taiwan
Summary: Our three-day program includes the following three events: (a) a series of Philosophical Dialogues; (b) a Book Symposium; and (c) the one-day International Conference “Virtue and Luck: Virtue Theory and Chinese Philosophy”. Continue reading “CFP: Virtue and Luck: Virtue Theory and Chinese Philosophy”
As those of you interested in virtue ethics will know, one of the much-discussed objections to virtue ethics in recent years has been Robert Johnson’s claim that any virtue ethical theory that tells us an act is right if and only if a fully virtuous agent would do it is incomplete, since it cannot account for duties of moral self-improvement (“Virtue and Right.” Ethics 113 (2003): 810-34). Sean McAleer has just published an article in the on-line Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy that uses Mengzi as one strategy to rebut Johnson. It’s fascinating to see Mengzi used as one source among others, without any seeming awkwardness, in thinking through this contemporary philosophical challenge. Or at any rate, I find it fascinating; what do you all think? (Full disclosure: Sean was one of the participants in the NEH Summer Seminar that Michael Slote and I ran two summers ago.)
COMPARATIVE PHILOSOPHY Vol 1, No 2 (2010)
Table of Contents
A conference on Confucianism and Virtue Ethics will be taking place in a week in Beijing. Further information is available below. The conference is open to the public. Please contact me if you’d like more information. Continue reading “Confucianism and Virtue Ethics Conference”
I’ve started work on a paper that asks how issues like continence and conscientiousness look when viewed through the lens of early Confucianism. These seems like a good idea in part because of the great range of ways in which such issues are treated in recent virtue ethics/virtue theory literature: some take it for granted that conscientiousness is a virtue, and perhaps even a central one (e.g., Adams, Wallace), while others insist that it is not a virtue at all, while disagreeing about what value it may have (e.g., Slote, Roberts). How do Confucians carve up the terrain? What attitudes, states, dispositions, and so on do they recognize that might do similar work to conscientiousness and related ideas?
These are big questions that I don’t propose to seriously address in this post, though maybe I’ll go there in subsequent efforts. (I’m new to this whole blog-posting thing. One step at a time.) For today, I want to focus on the infamous “village worthies (xiang yuan 鄉愿)” who are described briefly in Analects 17:13 as “thieves of virtue” and discussed at somewhat more length in Mengzi 7B37. My questions are: what’s wrong with them, and do the two texts view them in precisely the same way?
Continue reading “What's Wrong With Those Pesky "Village Worthies"?”