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date: 25 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

In this chapter the author defends the view that the major variants of Confucian ethics qualify as virtue ethics in the respects that matter most, which concern the focus, investigative priority, and explanatory priority of virtue over right action. The chapter also provides short summaries of the central Confucian virtues and then explains how different Confucians have understood the relationship between these and what some regard as the chief or most comprehensive virtue, ren (humaneness or benevolence). Finally, it explicates what most Confucians take to be a requirement of all virtues, which the author calls “wholeheartedness,” and concludes by highlighting some neglected implications of the wholeheartedness requirement for ethics more generally. These include reasons for linking conceptions of virtue and human nature, for thinking that good character necessitates that individuals change how things seem to them, and for endorsing automatic as opposed to intensively deliberative judgments and decisions.

Keywords: Confucianism, virtue ethics, human nature, benevolence, wholeheartedness

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