Weekly Articles of Interest (27 April 2018)

As explained here, the objective in these weekly digests of articles is to capture articles published outside of the journals whose full Tables of Contents we regularly post. Please forward to me information about any articles that should be included in a future digest.

Seth Robertson. “Power, Situation, and Character: A Confucian-Inspired Response to Indirect Situationist Critiques.” Ethical Theory and Moral Practice. Here. (Abstract below)

Jianlan Lyu, Xiaoli Tan & Yong Lang. “On the translation, promotion and acceptance of Chinese philosophy in the United States.” Asia Pacific Translation and Intercultural Studies. Here.

Andrej Fech, “Reflections on artisan metaphors in the Laozi 老子: Who cuts the “uncarved wood” (pu 樸)?” (Parts 1 and 2). Philosophy Compass 13:4 (2018). Here. (Abstract below)

Robertson. “Power, Situation, and Character” Abstract:

Indirect situationist critiques of virtue ethics grant that virtue exists and is possible to acquire, but contend that given the low probability of success in acquiring it, a person genuinely interested in behaving as morally as possible would do better to rely on situationist strategies – or, in other words, strategies of environmental or ecological engineering or control (Doris, 2002, 1998; see also Levy 2012). In this paper, I develop a partial answer to this critique drawn from work in early Confucian ethics and in contemporary philosophy and psychology. From early Confucian ethics, I lean on the concept of li, or ritual. Ritual represents both a set of situational manipulations that are especially effective at directly producing moral behavior and at indirectly cultivating virtue over time, and also a virtue that consists of facility with and expertise in these situational manipulations (Mower 2013; Slingerland, 2011; Sarkissian, 2010; and Hutton, 2006). Appealing to the particular example of social power, I then argue that one is justified in attempting to acquire virtue if one (a) knows that one will frequently encounter circumstances in which purely situationist strategies lose effectiveness, (b) if these circumstances also carry moral urgency: the risk of great harm or opportunity for great benefit to others is high, and (c) if utilizing the potent combination of situationist strategies and virtue envisioned by the early Confucians as ritual is possible.

Fech, “Reflections on artisan metaphors in the Laozi 老子” Abstract:

In this article, I argue that the Laozi 老子 offers a variety of cosmogenic accounts, including the one expressed by means of the artisan metaphors of “uncarved wood” (pu 樸), “vessels” (qi 器), and “cutting” (zhi 制). These metaphors and the images related to them often appeared in the given context in ancient Chinese literature depicting the physical emergence of the world as a process of progressive differentiation out of the original state of “chaos.” Thus, this account ultimately served as a cosmic justification for the establishment of distinctions and hierarchy within human society. However, as used in the Laozi, the artisan metaphors promulgate a type of social hierarchy that is characteristically informed by the values of ziran 自然 and wuwei 無為. My argumentation goes against the common tendency of Western scholars to regard the notions of craft appearing in the Laozi as relating exclusively to human activities, connoting “artifice,” that is, as detrimental to the “natural” run of the Way. By referring to the most prominent traditional commentaries of the work, I argue that this view was supported only marginally, if at all, in early China and that its emergence appears to be a reaction to and a rejection of the initial Western interpretation of the same terms, one that was heavily influenced by the Christian worldview.

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