Telling Others to Do What You Believe Is Morally Wrong: The Case of Confucius and Zai Wo

Asian Philosophy 29 (2):106-115 (2019)
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Can it ever be morally justifiable to tell others to do what we ourselves believe is morally wrong to do? The common sense answer is no. It seems that we should never tell others to do something if we think it is morally wrong to do that act. My first goal is to argue that in Analects 17.21, Confucius tells his disciple not to observe a ritual even though Confucius himself believes that it is morally wrong that one does not observe the ritual. My second goal is to argue against the common sense answer and explain how Confucius can be justified in telling his disciple to do what Confucius thought was wrong. The first justification has to do with telling someone to do what is second best when the person cannot do what is morally best. The second justification has to do with the role of a moral advisor.
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Archival date: 2019-08-08
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