This chapter argues that we can use “virtue” as what Aaron Stalnaker has called a “bridge concept” to facilitate comparative dialogue between Neo-Confucian discussions centered around “de” and current work in virtue ethics. The chapter traces early uses and theories concerning de, drawing on the work of Chinese scholars like Chen Lai and others. It then turns to a detailed look at uses of de in Zhu Xi and Wang Yangming, and explicates the relation between de—which functions very much like “virtue” functions in Western philosophies—and other key ideas like coherence (li), heart-mind (xin), and humaneness (ren). The chapter also looks at the role of rules in a virtue-based ethics. On the basis of this analysis, the chapter concludes that Neo-Confucianism is a virtue ethics.
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