Mencius, the feminine perspective and impartiality

Asian Philosophy 13 (1):3 – 13 (2003)
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Abstract

In her well-known In A Different Voice, Gilligan argues that the male and female approaches to morality are fundamentally opposed to each other. The masculine approach emphasizes impartial justice, and the application of a 'hierarchy' of rules. In contrast, the feminine approach is grounded in care and concern for others, and emphasizes flexibility and attention to context when making moral decisions. This paper offers a critique of Gilligan's views through a consideration of Mencian morality. Mencius inhabits the 'feminine' perspective insofar as his morality is grounded in care and responsibility. However, he develops from this a philosophy of government which recognizes the need for impartial justice to apply among citizens. Mencius's views show that, pace Gilligan, there is no inherent incompatibility between 'feminine' care and concern and 'male' impartial justice. It is possible for the latter to be founded upon the former.

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