Abstract

This essay refutes the widely held view that the Mohist doctrine of inclusive care (jian ai 兼愛) rules out any special preference for those close to us, especially family. Family values such as filial piety were in fact extremely important for the Mohists, as is clear even in their writings on inclusive care. Caring inclusively involved taking up a social perspective by committing oneself to collective norms that, if widely followed, would secure everybody’s well-being. This would not be a pure form of altruism, since many people would be able to care inclusively for others only if they could in turn benefit from other people’s care. This distinguishes the inclusive from the truly benevolent, who would remain benevolent regardless of how other people treat them. Understood, as it is argued here that we should, the Mohist doctrine of inclusive care provides a compelling account of how we should concern ourselves with one another’s well-being in a society in which caring attitudes are sufficiently widespread.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-1898
Print ISSN
0031-8221
Pages
pp. 60-91
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Open Access
No
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