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What friendship tells us about morality : a Confucian ethics of personal relationships

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Item Summary

Title: What friendship tells us about morality : a Confucian ethics of personal relationships
Authors: Lambert, Andrew Joseph
Keywords: Confuscianism
ethics
friendships
Issue Date: Dec 2012
Publisher: [Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2012]
Abstract: Drawing on classical Confucian thought, this work investigates how the features of friendship, broadly construed, give rise to a conception of ethical living. I first argue that the demands of modern moral theories, such as consequentialism, and of friendship are incongruent and that, since friendship is necessary for a worthwhile life, there is reason to develop a conception of ethical conduct starting from the features of friendship. I show how the basic features of ethical life, such as justification, obligation, practical reasons and norms delimiting acceptable and unacceptable action, can be derived from the practices of personal relationships.
To do this, I consider an ethical tradition that has placed personal relationships at the heart of its normative thought. I argue that the classical Confucian tradition yields novel conceptions of justification, obligation and so forth; further, these are integral to the conducting of personal relationships.
Based on the premise that any conception of ethical conduct takes some account of human practical activity to be fundamental and builds an ethics from this, I defend the view offered by developing a conception of practical activity in which personal relationships are fundamental. Here, the most important kind of action arises within a rolling series of episodic interactions with people who are or can be familiar to some degree. Such interactions are, on account of the familiar and personal particulars integral to them, personal. They are acts of friendship because they aim at making these interactions go as well as possible, by creating shared affective experiences or moving and memorable events. I call such friendship event friendship.
Finally, I address the objection that such an ethics applies only to a limited private realm and fails to guide conduct in the public realm. I argue that the basic practices and features outlined can coordinate conduct widely, across interpersonal social networks, and so create a stable social life. The relation between an ethics of personal relationships and moral theorising in the public realm is symbiotic; each is needed as a corrective for the other.
Description: Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2012.
Includes bibliographical references.
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/100870
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - Philosophy



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