Philosophy East and West 50 (1):97-110 (2000)

Jim Behuniak
Colby College
David Nivison has argued that there is a problem in Xunzi's ethical thinking resulting from a tension between the "deontological" and "consequentialist" tendencies in his thought. Here it is argued that the problem Nivison locates in Xunzi is not so severe once it is recognized that being human, according to Xunzi, has more to do with being social, recognizing distinctions, and assuming roles than with having an open, unfilled "sense of duty." The famous "ladder" passage in the Xunzi (9.16a) is closely examined, as it contributes not only to the formulation of Nivison's "problem" but perhaps to a Xunzian solution as well
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