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The Situationist Critique and Early Confucian Virtue Ethics

Edward Slingerland
Vol. 121, No. 2 (January 2011), pp. 390-419
DOI: 10.1086/658142
Stable URL:
Page Count: 30
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The Situationist Critique and Early Confucian Virtue Ethics
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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.