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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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No Need for Hemlock: Mencius's Defense of Tradition

No Need for Hemlock: Mencius's Defense of Tradition

(p.65) 3 No Need for Hemlock: Mencius's Defense of Tradition
Ethics in Early China

Franklin Perkins

Hong Kong University Press

This chapter examines the problematic intersection between reliance on tradition and demands for justification, particularly the implications of this tension for the meaning of philosophy. It concentrates on the Mencius as an attempt to maintain the primacy of tradition while answering the demand for justification, a demand prompted by the Mohists. These issues are approached following the work of Chad Hansen, in particular by working through a dilemma Hansen sets up between two interpretations of Mencius's view of human nature: a strong position that claims that human nature determines the details of Confucian morality and ritual, and a weak position that claims only that human nature drives us to develop morality, ritual, and so on, without determining their precise forms.

Keywords:   justification, philosophy, Mencius, Mohists, Chad Hansen

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