A paradox of virtue: The daodejing on virtue and moral philosophy

Philosophy East and West 59 (2):pp. 173-187 (2009)
Based on a reading of chapter 38 of the Daodejing , this article examines the relationship between the virtues and moral motivation. Laozi puts forward a view which might be termed a "paradox of virtue"—the phenomenon that a conscious pursuit of virtue can lead to a diminishing of virtue. It aims to show that Laozi's criticisms on the focus on the virtues and characters of agents, and his overall view on morality, pose challenges to a way of moral thinking that is common in modern moral philosophy, including virtue ethics.
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