Author Archives: Aaron Stalnaker

Author meets critics session at Central APA on Stalnaker, Mastery, Dependence, and the Ethics of Authority

The Central Division Meeting of the APA is this week.  There will be a session on Aaron Stalnaker’s new book, Mastery, Dependence, and the Ethics of Authority on Friday morning from 9 to noon.

Chair: Michael Slater (Georgetown University)

Author: Aaron Stalnaker (Indiana University)

Critics: Nancy Snow (University of Oklahoma)

Brad Cokelet (University of Kansas)

Patricia Marechal (Northwestern University)

Richard Kim (Loyola University Chicago)

If you’re in Chicago for the APA, please come by!

New book: Mastery, Dependence, and the Ethics of Authority, by Aaron Stalnaker

Oxford University Press has just published my new book on early Confucian social thought, and what contemporary people might learn from it: Mastery, Dependence, and the Ethics of Authority.  The publisher’s page is here.  At present the cheapest way to purchase it is directly from Oxford, with a discount code for 30% off (AAFLYG6).

This comes with hearty thanks to Steve Angle and Bryan Van Norden, who were belatedly revealed as the press’s referees.

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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.

Midwest Conference in Chinese Thought Call for Papers announced



11th Annual Midwest Conference on Chinese Thought

North Central College, Naperville, IL

May 1-2, 2015


The Midwest Conference on Chinese Thought was created to foster dialogue and interaction between scholars and students working on Chinese thought across different disciplines and through a variety of approaches. Submissions are invited for papers on any aspect of Chinese thought, as well as papers dealing with comparative issues that engage Chinese perspectives.

This year’s conference will be held on Friday, May 1 and Saturday, May 2 at North Central College in Naperville, IL (30 miles west of Chicago). Our keynote speaker will be Donald Harper, Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago. Dr. Harper will discuss the three groups of ancient Laozi manuscripts—the bamboo-slip manuscripts from Guodian, the silk manuscripts from Mawangdui, and the looted bamboo-slip manuscripts acquired by Peking University—from the perspective of current manuscript culture studies and the New Philology in European and Anglo-American textual studies. All three groups of manuscripts predate the first century BCE imperial editorial project which was a defining moment in the formation of the ancient intellectual texts that survive today in printed editions. Ranging in date between 300 and 100 BCE, the three groups of Laozi manuscripts permit us to consider the earlier formation and circulation of the Laozi based on actual manuscripts, and can be the basis for a reassessment of the “original” Laozi.

Please submit a 1-page abstract to Brian Hoffert at by January 31, 2015 for blind review. For more information about the conference, go to or contact Brian Hoffert at

Midwest Conference on Chinese Thought — proposal deadline extended one week

Just in case this has slipped your mind, you now have one extra week to send in a proposal for the 8th Annual Midwest Conference on Chinese Thought. Proposals are now due next Friday, January 13. The conference will be April 13-15 at Indiana University. For more information, see the revised cfp below:

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New doctoral program in Chinese Thought at Indiana

With applications for graduate programs due in the next couple of months I thought I’d briefly announce the development of a new program in Chinese thought at Indiana University. I’ve posted a brief description below, but more information can be found at this website ( With two faculty in the department working on Confucian thought, and good support from strong departments of Philosophy and East Asian Languages and Cultures, we hope to provide a solid option for those looking to do graduate work in Chinese philosophy within the context of a religious studies department.

This field trains students to produce original research on Chinese philosophical and religious thought. It also provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary to teach effectively about the religious traditions of East Asia. Students in this field learn to interpret the texts of early China in light of the various disciplines involved in the comparative study of religion, including philosophy, history, philology, and anthropology. While students will gain a broad knowledge of Chinese texts, the current focus of this field is the early period of Confucianism (roughly the 6th century BCE through the 3rd century CE). However, concentrating on another time period is possible, depending on previous student training.