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Contribution to Book
Virtue Ethics, Rule of Law, and Self-Restriction
The Philosophical Challenge from China (2015)
  • Stephen C. Angle, Wesleyan University
It is a provocative coincidence that 1958 saw the publication of both Elizabeth Anscombe’s “Modern Moral Philosophy,” an essay widely seen as initiating the revival of Western philosophical interest in virtue ethics, and the “Manifesto to the World’s People on Behalf of Chinese Culture,” a jointly-authored argument that Confucianism was still alive and had much to offer to the world. A great deal of research and debate has flowed from each of these sources over the last half-century, but so far there has been very little dialogue between modern Western virtue ethics and modern Confucianism.1 Scholars of ancient Confucianism have begun paying considerable attention to analogues within the Western virtue-ethical tradition, and some contemporary Western virtue ethicists have begun to draw on early Confucianism, but contemporary Confucianism has been largely absent from these conversations.2 The reasons for this absence are not hard to discover, but it is nonetheless unfortunate because one of the topics about which contemporary Confucians have debated most thoroughly—the relations among ethics, politics, and law—is among the areas about which Western virtue ethicists have had the least to say.3 The thesis of this essay is that anyone interested in the political philosophy that correlates with or grows out of virtue ethics has much to learn from modern Confucians, and in particular that Mou Zongsan’s idea of self-restriction, suitably modified, should be central to any plausible contemporary virtue-based politics. 
  • Self Restriction,
  • Virtue Ethics,
  • Mou Zongsan,
  • Aristotle,
  • Confucianism,
  • New Confucianism,
  • China
Publication Date
Citation Information
Stephen C. Angle. "Virtue Ethics, Rule of Law, and Self-Restriction" The Philosophical Challenge from China (2015)
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