Are early confucians consequentialists?

Asian Philosophy 15 (1):19-34 (2005)
Various attempts have been made to interpret Confucian ethics in the framework of consequentialist ethics. Such interpretations either treat Mencius theory of moral choice as a kind of act-utilitarianism or attribute to Mencius a rather sophisticated consequentialist moral view. In this paper I challenge such interpretations and try to clarify the nature of the Confucian conception of the good. In order to show that the Confucian good is teleological but non-consequentialist, I will discuss different ways (especially those of John Rawls and Alasdair MacIntyre) of classifying ethical theories and show their bearing on my interpretation of Confucian ethics. I will then discuss the consequentialist (utilitarian) understanding of early Confucians, arguing that without a proper understanding of the overall character of Confucian ethics and its primary concern, no interpretation of the Confucian conception of the good may claim to be adequate
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