Confucian Role Ethics and Relational Autonomy in the Mengzi

Philosophy East and West 66 (3):903-922 (2016)
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This essay examines whether Confucian role ethics offers resources to identify and redress gender inequality and oppression. On its face, Confucian role ethics seems ill suited for this task for two reasons. First, a central tenet of role ethics is that a person is constituted by her roles. Because roles are constituted by norms that govern them, many social roles are, and have been, historically oppressive. Second, discussions of Confucian role ethics tend to avoid talk of autonomy, yet autonomy is helpful in identifying and rectifying gender inequalities insofar as autonomy tracks the ways oppression disables individuals’ abilities to achieve personhood. My goal in this essay is to work...



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John Ramsey
University of California, Riverside (PhD)

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