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Ethics in Early ChinaAn Anthology$
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Chris Fraser, Dan Robins, and Timothy O'Leary

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9789888028931

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888028931.001.0001

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Mencius as Consequentialist

Mencius as Consequentialist

Chapter:
(p.41) 2 Mencius as Consequentialist
Source:
Ethics in Early China
Author(s):

Manyul Im

Publisher:
Hong Kong University Press
DOI:10.5790/hongkong/9789888028931.003.0003

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

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