How should we treat animals? A confucian reflection

Contrary to the views proposed by modern animal rights scholars, this essay reconstructs the Confucian argument for the moral defensibility of the Confucian ritual use of animals by providing an expository analysis of classical Confucian literature. The argument is developed by focusing on the issue of the sacrificial use of animals in the Confucian tradition. While animals are treated according to certain regulations and restrictions, they are not spared from being offered as sacrifices. An essential component of Confucian virtues, reverence, requires showing deep respect to Heaven, gods, spirits, and humans but not to animals. If Confucians change the rituals in ways that spare animals, they would fail to show the depth of reverence to gods, spirits, and humans that they should.
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DOI 10.1007/s11712-009-9144-7
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D. C. Lau (2005). Mencius. Penguin Classics.

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