Virtue Ethics, The Analects, and the Problem of Commensurability

Journal of Religious Ethics 29 (1):97-125 (2001)
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Abstract

In support of the thesis that virtue ethics allows for a more comprehensive and consistent interpretation of the Analects than other possible models, the author uses a structural outline of a virtue ethic (derived from Alasdair MacIntyre's account of the Aristotlelian tradition) to organize a discussion of the text. The resulting interpretation focuses attention on the religious aspects of Confucianism and accounts for aspects of the text that are otherwise difficult to explain. In addition, the author argues that the structural similarities between the Aristotelian and Confucian conceptions of self‐cultivation indicate a dimension of commensurability between the two traditions, despite very real variations in specific content. Finally, the author suggests how crosscultural commensurability, in general, can be understood on a theoretical level.

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