Moral obligation and moral motivation in confucian role-based ethics

How is the Confucian moral agent motivated to do what he or she judges to be right or good? In western philosophy, the answer to a question such as this depends on whether one is an internalist or externalist concerning moral motivation. In this article, I will first interpret Confucian ethics as role-based ethics and then argue that we can attribute to Confucianism a position on moral motivation that is neither internalist nor externalist but somewhere in between. I will then illustrate my claim with my reading of Mencius 6A4, showing that it is superior to readings found in the literature, which typically assume that Mencius is an internalist.
Keywords Externalism  Moral motivation  Internalism  Role-based ethics
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Reprint years 2016
DOI 10.1007/s11712-008-9104-7
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