If Confucius met Scanlon—Understanding filial piety from Confucianism and Contractualism

Philosophy Compass 16 (12):e12792 (2021)
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How much should adult children sacrifice to care for their chronically ill parents? If parents commit crimes, should their children report them to the authorities? What are the demands of filial obligation in these cases? Traditionally, Confucians have favoured a somewhat stringent view of filial obligation. By this view, adult children have to provide long‐term care to their parents as well as place their parents' interests over any concerns of justice, should the two happen to conflict. I will call these stringent views the principles of filial caregiving and filial favoritism. In this paper, I will use Scanlon's Contractualism to analyze the two principles, and juxtapose the Contractualist analysis with the Confucian filial piety. By doing this, we sharpen Confucianism's critical elements, and highlight the coherence of Contractualism with this ethical ideology from a non‐analytic tradition.



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What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
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The Right and the Good.W. D. Ross - 1935 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 119 (1):124-124.

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