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Compassion and Moral Guidance$
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Steve Bein

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780824836412

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824836412.001.0001

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Objections to an Ethic of Compassion

Objections to an Ethic of Compassion

Chapter:
(p.132) Chapter Four Objections to an Ethic of Compassion
Source:
Compassion and Moral Guidance
Author(s):

Steve Bein

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824836412.003.0004

This chapter addresses several potential problems with an ethic of compassion and offers solutions to those problems. It deals with the question of partiality. Compassion must ultimately reject impartiality, and if this is not found to be a deficiency, detractors may suggest that a compassionate ethic slips too far in the other direction. In other words, to be overly partial in one's ethical concerns is to risk being self-serving, but if selfless compassion avoids this pitfall, it opens itself to the charge of being self-abusive. Other objections pertain to the roots of the model of compassion developed over the preceding chapters. The cultural histories of Confucianism and Buddhism are fraught with racism, sexism, and cultural elitism. If an ethic of compassion is to get off the ground, it must not be given to the biases latent in the histories of the traditions that give rise to it. Finally, there is the question of whether an ethic of compassion is too demanding. If moral standards are set so high that virtually no one can reach them, perhaps the moral theory that sets those standards is not worth following.

Keywords:   compassion, partiality, Confucianism, Buddhism, moral standards, moral theory

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