Principles, Virtues, or Detachment? Some Appreciative Reflections on Karen Stohr’s On Manners

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Karen Stohr’s book On Manners argues persuasively that rules of etiquette, though conventional, play an essential moral role, because they “serve as vehicles through which we express important moral values like respect and consideration for the needs, ideas, and opinions of others”. Stohr frequently invokes Kantian concepts and principles in order to make her point. In Part 2 of this essay, I shall argue that the significance of etiquette is better understood using a virtue ethics framework, like that of Confucianism, rather than the language of Kantianism. Within the Chinese tradition, Daoists have frequently been critics of Confucian ritualism. Consequently, in Part 3, I shall consider some possible Daoist critiques of Stohr’s work.
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