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  • Cited by 4
  • Cited by
    This chapter has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Lee, Jung H. 2009. The Moral Power of Jim: A Mencian Reading ofHuckleberry Finn. Asian Philosophy, Vol. 19, Issue. 2, p. 101.

    Provis, Chris 2010. Virtuous Decision Making for Business Ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 91, Issue. S1, p. 3.

    Harris, Eirik Lang 2016. Dao Companion to the Philosophy of Xunzi. p. 95.

    Tiwald, Justin 2017. Punishment and Autonomous Shame in Confucian Thought. Criminal Justice Ethics, Vol. 36, Issue. 1, p. 45.

  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: December 2009

7 - The Virtue of Righteousness in Mencius


In not isolating a privileged conception of moral guilt, and in placing under a broader conception of shame the social and psychological structures that were near to what we call “guilt,” the Greeks, once again, displayed realism, and truthfulness, and a beneficent neglect.

– Bernard Williams Shame and Necessity

The shamefulness of being without a sense of shame is shameless indeed.

– Mencius

Of the four cardinal virtues of the Platonic and Thomistic traditions (wisdom, justice, courage, and moderation), only one corresponds, even approximately, to any of the four cardinal Mencian virtues (benevolence, righteousness, propriety, and wisdom). Consequently, philosophers who study virtue should find Mencius a rich resource. Unfortunately, there are not many detailed published studies of the Mencian virtues. In this paper, I want to examine in some depth Mencius' understanding of the virtue of yi, conventionally translated as “righteousness.” In Section I, I lay the background for my discussion of righteousness by outlining the Mencian view of self-cultivation and the virtues as a whole. In Section II, I examine how the virtue of righteousness is related to the key Mencian notion of “extension.” In Section III, I discuss the relationship between righteousness and shame. Finally, in Section IV, I briefly discuss some of the philosophical problems raised by Mencian righteousness.

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Confucian Ethics
  • Online ISBN: 9780511606960
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