Virtue Ethicist of the Ideal Type

Aristotle or Zhu Xi?


  • Yong HUANG The Chinese University of Hong Kong



Zhu Xi, Aristotle, Virtue Ethics, Confucianism, Comparative Philosophy


There has been an impressive revival of virtue ethics as a rival to deontology and consequentialism in contemporary Western normative ethics. Correspondingly, many comparative philosophers have shown a great interest in finding virtue ethics potentials in other philosophical traditions in the world, the most impressive of which is Confucianism. While the result of such comparative studies is equally impressive, in almost all these studies, scholars tend to use a historical example of virtue ethics in the Western philosophical tradition, particularly the Aristotelian one, as the ideal type of virtue ethics, to measure historical examples of virtue ethics in other philosophical traditions. The result is thus conceivably skewed: however great these non-Western examples of virtue ethics are, they are perceived to be deficient in one way or another in comparison with the Aristotelian one. In this paper, I first construct an ideal type of virtue ethics in its contrast with ideal types of consequentialism and deontology: a normative ethics in which virtue is primary. I then use this ideal type of virtue ethics to measure Aristotle’s virtue ethics and Zhu Xi’s virtue ethics, both regarded as historical types of virtue ethics, concluding that Zhu Xi’s is closer to the ideal type of virtue ethics than Aristotle’s.


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18. 01. 2024

How to Cite

HUANG, Yong. 2024. “Virtue Ethicist of the Ideal Type: Aristotle or Zhu Xi?”. Asian Studies 12 (1): 197-227.

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