Moral Luck, Self-cultivation, and Responsibility: The Confucian Conception of Free Will and Determinism

Moral Luck, Self-cultivation, and Responsibility: The Confucian Conception of Free Will and... Abstract: In this essay it is argued that the conception of free will and determinism implied by Confucianism (of Confucius and Mencius) takes a compatibilist form. On one hand, it is argued that it is difficult to see libertarian free will in Confucianism. Confucianism's virtue ethics, with its emphasis on human character formation, cannot avoid the influence of internal factors and external circumstances on one's character that are beyond one's control. On the other hand, Confucianism espouses voluntary character formation and self-cultivation through human choice. This attitude likewise renders a hard determinist view untenable. With hard determinism and absolute free will both difficult to accept, the Confucian ethicists, beginning with Confucius and Mencius, seem to have been unable to avoid swinging between two extremes. However, as ethicists who exhort voluntary moral effort, they place autonomous action in the forefront of their compatibilism over inborn luck or fated events. Although this compatibilism may be valid from the standpoint of a practical philosophy that supports existing moral practices and responsibility, I examine whether it is truly tenable from a theoretical perspective. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Philosophy East and West University of Hawai'I Press

Moral Luck, Self-cultivation, and Responsibility: The Confucian Conception of Free Will and Determinism

Philosophy East and West, Volume 63 (1) – Jan 20, 2013

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 University of Hawai'i Press.
ISSN
1529-1898
Publisher site
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Abstract

Abstract: In this essay it is argued that the conception of free will and determinism implied by Confucianism (of Confucius and Mencius) takes a compatibilist form. On one hand, it is argued that it is difficult to see libertarian free will in Confucianism. Confucianism's virtue ethics, with its emphasis on human character formation, cannot avoid the influence of internal factors and external circumstances on one's character that are beyond one's control. On the other hand, Confucianism espouses voluntary character formation and self-cultivation through human choice. This attitude likewise renders a hard determinist view untenable. With hard determinism and absolute free will both difficult to accept, the Confucian ethicists, beginning with Confucius and Mencius, seem to have been unable to avoid swinging between two extremes. However, as ethicists who exhort voluntary moral effort, they place autonomous action in the forefront of their compatibilism over inborn luck or fated events. Although this compatibilism may be valid from the standpoint of a practical philosophy that supports existing moral practices and responsibility, I examine whether it is truly tenable from a theoretical perspective.

Journal

Philosophy East and WestUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Jan 20, 2013

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