Why Confucianism Matters in Ethics of Technology

In Shannon Vallor (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Technology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, Usa (2020)
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There are a number of recent attempts to introduce Confucian values to the ethical analysis of technology. These works, however, have not attended sufficiently to one central aspect of Confucianism, namely Ritual (‘Li’). Li is central to Confucian ethics, and it has been suggested that the emphasis on Li in Confucian ethics is what distinguishes it from other ethical traditions. Any discussion of Confucian ethics for technology, therefore, remains incomplete without accounting for Li. This chapter aims to elaborate on the concept of Confucian Li and discuss its relevance to ethics of technology. Particularly, by referring to Li’s communicative, formative, and aesthetic function, I formulate an approach to ethics of technology with an emphasis on community, performance, and the aesthetic and demonstrate how this approach proceeds with the ethical analysis of technology. In doing so, I attempt to answer the question: why Confucianism matters in ethics of technology.

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Pak-Hang Wong
Hong Kong Baptist University


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