Role ethics as virtue ethics?

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

Soochow/Academia Sinica Conference Report

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

PEA Soup Discussion of Slingerland on Situationism and Confucian Ethics

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.

Kings and Thieves

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

Funding Opportunity: Character Project at Wake Forest

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

CFP: Virtue and Luck: Virtue Theory and Chinese Philosophy


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

A Mengzian Answer to Johnson's Incompleteness Objection

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.)

New Issue of Comparative Philosophy

COMPARATIVE PHILOSOPHY      Vol 1, No 2 (2010)

Table of Contents


Nader El-Bizri
Graham Priest

Recent Work

Justin Tiwald