Mencius as Consequentialist

Manyul Im

in Ethics in Early China

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9789888028931
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9789882209800 | DOI:
Mencius as Consequentialist

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This chapter lays out the reasons for trying to understand Mencius by attributing a consequentialist moral theory to him. This is meant in part as an oblique criticism of readings on which he is construed as a “virtue ethicist.” It is also meant to be something of a reply to Chad Hansen's (1992) consistently severe dismissals of Mencius as a competent thinker about ethics. However, the scope of the argument here is limited to the positive argument in favor of reading Mencius as a consequentialist. This chapter argues that, on the best systematic sense that can be made of the text, Mencius judges the responses and actions of the gentleman, or jūnzǐ, to be better or worse according to whether such responses and actions bring about better or worse consequences than other responses, lack of responses, actions, or inactions that might have been brought about.

Keywords: Mencius; consequentialist moral theory; virtue ethicist; Chad Hansen; jūnzǐ

Chapter.  10139 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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