Value Conflicts, Moral Diversity & Zhi 志 in Confucian Tradition
Yuhan Liang (Ph.D. Candidate, Philosophy, UConn)
with a response by Michael Lynch (Philosophy, UConn)
Wednesday, October 19, 2022, 3:30pm, RESCHEDULED: Wednesday, March 22, 2022, 12:15pm, Humanities Institute Conference Room (HBL 4-209)
The event will also be livestreamed with automated captioning.
Moral diversity entails different people can legitimately adopt different practices even in similar cases. However, moral consistency requires people to treat similar cases alike (the doctrine of superveniences). I start with the problem–to what extent diverse practices are legitimate? Diverse practices entail that personal factors, like one’s value preferences, play a role in reasoning, whereas moral consistency requires different people to recognize universal values and separate personal preferences. Thus, the paper argues that taking account of personal factors will not comprise moral consistency. In this talk, I examine three views: 1) Circumstantial realtivism. Scholars (like Alan Donagan) use different circumstances to justify different judgments and thus leave no room for personal considerations. 2) Rational relativism. Rational relativists, Joesph Raz and Ruth Chang, argue that only when rational choices cannot decide the judgment in a specific situation, agents can create will-based reasons by making a commitment. Thus, they level some room for personal considerations. 3) I argue for the third position. Particular personal factors should always play a role in practical reasoning. Through reverse engineering the notion zhi 志, we can learn that zhi calls for dual correspondence. Having zhi is not merely require an intellectual response. It also calls for the cultivation of affective dispositions in everyday practices. Thus, personal considerations should always play a role in practical reasoning. But different zhi will not comprise moral consistency because it will not twist the recognization of right judgments.
Yuhan Liang is a doctoral candidate in philosophy at the University of Connecticut. Her research is interdisciplinary and involves Chinese philosophy, virtue epistemology, and moral psychology. At UCHI, she works on the dissertation “Confucian exemplars and Moral Diversity.” This dissertation aims to reconcile moral diversity and consistency via exemplarism approaches. Unlike most Anglo-American philosophies that adopt a top-down approach to studying moral questions in the frame of normative ethics and metaethics, Confucian exemplarism provides a bottom-up pragmatic approach: through reverse engineer exemplars’ everyday practices or instructions, we reconstruct the theoretical commitments based on their moral excellency.
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