Publications and Research

Document Type

Book Chapter or Section

Publication Date



Since Chenyang Li’s (1994) groundbreaking article there has been interest in reading early Confucian ethics through the lens of care ethics. In this paper, I examine the prospects for dialogue between the two in light of recent work in both fields.

I argue that, despite some similarities, early Confucian ethics is not best understood as a form of care ethics, of the kind articulated by Nel Noddings (1984, 2002) and others. Reasons include incongruence deriving from the absence in the Chinese texts of a developed account of need, and doubts about whether the parent-child relationship in Confucian thought is best characterized by ‘care’. More importantly, care is merely one value directing the Confucian commitment to family and personal bonds, with different kinds of relationship, including the five relationships presented in the Mencius, entailing different idealized modes of relating to others.


Published in Feminist Encounters with Confucius, Mathew Foust and Sor-hoon Tan, eds., Leiden: Brill Publishing, 2016: 173-97.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.