Care ethics and Confucian philosophy

Mark D. White

In the latest issue of Philosophical Compass (6/6, June 2011), Ann A. Pang-White (University of Scranton) discusses "Caring in Confucian Philosophy":

This article examines the intersections of Confucian philosophy and feminist ethics of care. It explains the origins and contribution of care ethics to modern ethical discourse and the controversy that surrounds this ethical theory. The article discusses the emergence of comparative research on the compatibility (or incompatibility) of Confucian ren and feminist care. It first explores the question whether it is philosophically feasible to disassociate Confucian ren from its historical context by deploying it for contemporary feminist debates, especially considering that, strictly speaking, no direct counterpart in the original Confucian texts is an exact match to the words ‘care’ or ‘caring’. Following this exploration, the article investigates what ren is and whether Confucian ren is feminist care, what the ‘No Exit’ Objection and the ‘Domesticity’ Objection are, and how ren or caring in Confucian philosophy can answer these objections. The article concludes with an affirmation of the social transformative power of ren and its feminist potential.

Confucian Virtue Ethics and Situationism

Mark D. White

In the latest in their series of discussions of papers drawn from the journals EthicsPEA Soup are focusing "The Situationist Critique and Confuncian Virtue Ethics" by Edward Slingerland, which is available through PEA Soup here (for a limited time). The abstract is as follows:

This article argues that strong versions of the situationist critique of virtue ethics are empirically and conceptually unfounded, as well as that, even if one accepts that the predictive power of character may be limited, this is not a fatal problem for early Confucian virtue ethics. Early Confucianism has explicit strategies for strengthening and expanding character traits over time, as well as for managing a variety of situational forces. The article concludes by suggesting that Confucian virtue ethics represents a more empirically responsible model of ethics than those currently dominant in Western philosophy.

Critiques of situationism from scholars in the Western virtue ethics tradition are fairly common, but to see a statement from the viewpoint of Confucianism--I don't know how I missed this one.