Confucianism and Virtue Ethics|
Fall 2008 not offered
In recent Western moral philosophy, virtue ethics has been undergoing a renaissance; many philosophers have been attracted to this approach to ethics that emphasizes a person's character and cultivated dispositions rather than a rule-centured approach to right and wrong. Since the virtue ethics approach was more popular prior to the 20th century, philosophers have looked back to a variety of historical thinkers for inspiration, including Aristotle, Hume, and Nietzsche. In this course, we will explore the merits of drawing on thinkers from the Confucian tradition to develop virtue ethics. In what ways do Confucian thinkers lend themselves to being understood as virtue ethicists? What new stimulae might Confucianism offer to contemporary philosophers who so far have only drawn on Western sources? Is it fruitful to talk about a contemporary version of Confucianism that can enter into dialogue with both contemporary Western virtue ethicists and their critics?
Ethical Reasoning, Intercultural Literacy
Intercultural Literacy: This course will engage "intercultural literacy" in two ways. First, students will be directly involved in the potential dialogue between two different cultures' philosophical traditions, and making efforts to see how one tradition raises challenges for, or stimulae for, the other. Second, we will reflect on the opportunities raised by such cross-cultural philosophizing, as well as the obstacles that exist to its success.
Ethical Reasoning: This course focuses on one of the main theoretical approaches to understanding ethics, namely "virtue ethics." We will seek to understand both the strengths and weaknesses of virtue ethics as a "theory," as well as its practical or concrete implications for people's lives.
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Seminar||Grading Mode: Graded|
||Prerequisites: Any Two Philosophy Courses
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (CEAS-Phil/Reli)(PHIL-Philosophy)(SISP-Phil Ethic)
Readings will be drawn from recent scholarship on the relation between Confucianism and virtue ethics (e.g., Sim, REMASTERING MORALS WITH ARISTOTLE AND CONFUCIUS, and Van Norden, VIRTUE ETHICS AND CONSEQUENTIALISM IN EARLY CHINESE PHILOSOPHY), as well as broad works in contemporary Western virtue ethics (like Hursthouse, ON VIRTUE ETHICS, and Swanton, VIRTUE ETHICS: A PLURALISTIC APPROACH).
|Examinations and Assignments: |
Two four-page papers and a fifteen-page research paper are required. Students will also make short presentations in class and be expected to participate actively in class discussion.
|Additional Requirements and/or Comments: |
Students must have some background in philosophy. Previous exposure to Confucian philosophy is extremely desirable, as is some background in Western ethics.
Any student who has not taken PHIL205 (Classical Chinese Philosophy) will be required to attend a half-day Chinese Philosophy Bootcamp, to be scheduled at a mutually convenient time--probably on a weekend afternoon--early in the semester.
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