A Confucian Slippery Slope Argument

Confucian Academy: Chinese Thought and Culture Review 4 (1):89-101 (2017)
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Abstract

The Song and Ming dynasty Confucians make frequent use of what would today be identified as a slippery slope argument. The Book of Changes and its early commentaries provide both the language and the rationale for this argument, inasmuch as the Confucians regard these texts as a method for identifying tiny problems that will one day threaten the state. While today the slippery slope argument is often criticized for promoting an unreasoned resistance to change, a close look at its use by Confucians reveals that they largely avoid this criticism, using the argument in a reasoned way to target not change, but excess.

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Michael Harrington
Duquesne University

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