Yong Huang
Chinese University of Hong Kong
It has been widely observed that virtue ethics, regarded as an ethics of the ancient, in contrast to deontology and consequentialism, seen as an ethics of the modern, is experiencing an impressive revival and is becoming a strong rival to utilitarianism and deontology in the English-speaking world in the last a few decades. Despite this, it has been perceived as having an obvious weakness in comparison with its two major rivals. While both utilitarianism and deontology can at the same time serve as an ethical theory, providing guidance for individual persons and a political philosophy, offering ways to structure social institutions, virtue ethics, as it is concerned with character traits of individual persons, seems to be ill-equipped to be politically useful. In recent years, some attempts have been made to develop the so-called virtue politics, but most of them, including my own, are limited to arguing for the perfectionist view that the state has the obligation to do things to help its members develop their virtues, and so the focus is still on the character traits of individual persons. However important those attempts are, such a notion of virtue politics is clearly too narrow, unless one thinks that the only job the state is supposed to do is to cultivate its people’s virtues. Yet obviously the government has many other jobs to do such as making laws and social policies, many if not most of which are not for the purpose of making people virtuous. The question is then in what sense such laws and social policies are moral in general and just in particular. Utilitarianism and deontology have their ready answers in the light of utility or moral principles respectively. Can virtue ethics provide its own answer? This paper attempts to argue for an affirmative answer to this question from the Confucian point of view, as represented by Mencius. It does so with a focus on the virtue of justice, as it is a central concept in both virtue ethics and political philosophy.
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DOI 10.1515/yewph-2020-0021
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References found in this work BETA

After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory.Alasdair C. MacIntyre - 1983 - University of Notre Dame Press.
The Metaphysics of Morals.Immanuel Kant - 1797/1996 - Cambridge University Press.
Utilitarianism.John Stuart Mill - 1863 - Cleveland: Cambridge University Press.
Justice as Fairness: Political Not Metaphysical.John Rawls - 1985 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 14 (3):223-251.

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