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David B. Wong

Susan Fox Beischer and George D. Beischer Trinity College Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Philosophy
Philosophy
Duke Box 90743, Durham, NC 27708-0743
211 W Duke Bldg, Durham, NC

Selected Publications


Feeling, Reflection, and Reasoning in the Mencius

Chapter · April 11, 2023 This book is about the philosophical, historical, and interpretative aspects of Mencius. ... Cite

Moral Relativism and Pluralism

Book · January 31, 2023 The argument for metaethical relativism, the view that there is no single true or most justified morality, is that it is part of the best explanation of the most difficult moral disagreements. The argument for this view features a comparison betwee ... Full text Cite

Feeling, Reflection, and Reasoning in the Mencius

Chapter · January 1, 2023 One of the most intriguing features of the Mencius lies in its claims about the path to goodness: they are eloquently defended but also articulated in ambiguous ways. It is clear that a major role for feeling or emotion is envisaged, but is the relevant so ... Full text Cite

Metaphors and Analogies in Classical Chinese Thought: The Governance of the Individual, the State, and Society

Book · 2023 Chinese edition of a series of five lectures delivered at the National Chengchi University ... Cite

Mind (Heart-Mind) in Chinese Philosophy

Chapter · 2023 The role of the concept of mind (heart-mind) in classical Chinese philosophy ... Cite

RESPONSIBILITY IN CONFUCIAN THOUGHT

Chapter · January 1, 2023 This chapter will use responsibility as a “bridge” concept between the Confucian and Western moral and political traditions. A key feature of the concept lies in its root meaning “to respond.” Confucian thought focuses on how the responder is entrusted and ... Full text Cite

Constructive Skepticism in the Zhuangzi

Chapter · September 21, 2022 This comprehensive collection brings out the rich and deep philosophical resources of the Zhuangzi. ... Cite

Constructive Skepticism in the Zhuangzi

Chapter · January 1, 2022 In this essay I further develop an interpretation of the Zhuangzi 莊子 as an enactment of “constructive skepticism” (previously articulated in Wong 2005, 2009, 2017). This is not a declarative skepticism that makes a claim about the state of human knowledge ... Full text Cite

Constructive skepticism and being a mirror in the Zhuangzi

Journal Article Journal of Chinese Philosophy · January 1, 2021 The Zhuangzi text deploys two epistemic themes to accomplish its ends of combatting human pretensions to know the world and to prompting us to rediscover the world through fresh eyes. To get us to shed our arrogant dispositions it applies a constructive sk ... Full text Cite

Relational and autonomous selves

Journal Article Journal of Chinese Philosophy · January 1, 2021 Full text Cite

Identifying with nature in early Daoism

Journal Article Journal of Chinese Philosophy · January 1, 2021 Full text Cite

A relational approach to environmental ethics

Journal Article Journal of Chinese Philosophy · January 1, 2021 Full text Cite

Universalism versus love with distinctions: An ancient debate revived

Journal Article Journal of Chinese Philosophy · January 1, 2021 Full text Cite

Soup, harmony, and disagreement

Journal Article Journal of the American Philosophical Association · June 1, 2020 Is the ancient Confucian ideal of he, 'harmony,' a viable ideal in pluralistic societies composed of people and groups who subscribe to different ideals of the good and moral life? Is harmony compatible with accepting, even encouraging, difference and the ... Full text Open Access Cite

Why Forgiveness is So Elusive

Chapter · 2020 Discussion of how forgiveness has been conceived across history and culture. ... Cite

Commentary on "Is it Good to Cooperate?"

Journal Article Current Anthropology · 2019 Cite

Feeling, Reflection, and Reasoning in the Mencius

Chapter · April 11, 2023 This book is about the philosophical, historical, and interpretative aspects of Mencius. ... Cite

Moral Relativism and Pluralism

Book · January 31, 2023 The argument for metaethical relativism, the view that there is no single true or most justified morality, is that it is part of the best explanation of the most difficult moral disagreements. The argument for this view features a comparison betwee ... Full text Cite

Feeling, Reflection, and Reasoning in the Mencius

Chapter · January 1, 2023 One of the most intriguing features of the Mencius lies in its claims about the path to goodness: they are eloquently defended but also articulated in ambiguous ways. It is clear that a major role for feeling or emotion is envisaged, but is the relevant so ... Full text Cite

Metaphors and Analogies in Classical Chinese Thought: The Governance of the Individual, the State, and Society

Book · 2023 Chinese edition of a series of five lectures delivered at the National Chengchi University ... Cite

Mind (Heart-Mind) in Chinese Philosophy

Chapter · 2023 The role of the concept of mind (heart-mind) in classical Chinese philosophy ... Cite

RESPONSIBILITY IN CONFUCIAN THOUGHT

Chapter · January 1, 2023 This chapter will use responsibility as a “bridge” concept between the Confucian and Western moral and political traditions. A key feature of the concept lies in its root meaning “to respond.” Confucian thought focuses on how the responder is entrusted and ... Full text Cite

Constructive Skepticism in the Zhuangzi

Chapter · September 21, 2022 This comprehensive collection brings out the rich and deep philosophical resources of the Zhuangzi. ... Cite

Constructive Skepticism in the Zhuangzi

Chapter · January 1, 2022 In this essay I further develop an interpretation of the Zhuangzi 莊子 as an enactment of “constructive skepticism” (previously articulated in Wong 2005, 2009, 2017). This is not a declarative skepticism that makes a claim about the state of human knowledge ... Full text Cite

Constructive skepticism and being a mirror in the Zhuangzi

Journal Article Journal of Chinese Philosophy · January 1, 2021 The Zhuangzi text deploys two epistemic themes to accomplish its ends of combatting human pretensions to know the world and to prompting us to rediscover the world through fresh eyes. To get us to shed our arrogant dispositions it applies a constructive sk ... Full text Cite

Relational and autonomous selves

Journal Article Journal of Chinese Philosophy · January 1, 2021 Full text Cite

Identifying with nature in early Daoism

Journal Article Journal of Chinese Philosophy · January 1, 2021 Full text Cite

A relational approach to environmental ethics

Journal Article Journal of Chinese Philosophy · January 1, 2021 Full text Cite

Universalism versus love with distinctions: An ancient debate revived

Journal Article Journal of Chinese Philosophy · January 1, 2021 Full text Cite

Soup, harmony, and disagreement

Journal Article Journal of the American Philosophical Association · June 1, 2020 Is the ancient Confucian ideal of he, 'harmony,' a viable ideal in pluralistic societies composed of people and groups who subscribe to different ideals of the good and moral life? Is harmony compatible with accepting, even encouraging, difference and the ... Full text Open Access Cite

Why Forgiveness is So Elusive

Chapter · 2020 Discussion of how forgiveness has been conceived across history and culture. ... Cite

Commentary on "Is it Good to Cooperate?"

Journal Article Current Anthropology · 2019 Cite

Review of Michael Ing, The Vulernability of Integrity

Journal Article Dao: a journal of comparative philosophy · 2019 Cite

Hiding the World in the World: A Case for Cosmopolitanism Based in the Zhuangzi

Chapter · 2019 Human relations to place cannot be easily or simply characterized. As a species, we have long been both settled and mobile, with some rooted in place and others more migratory. Mobility is not a new feature of human life; however, economic globalization ... Cite

Moral Ambivalence

Chapter · 2019 Cite

Relativism and pluralism in moral epistemology

Chapter · January 1, 2018 Moral universalists hold that there is a single true or most justified morality. Moral relativists deny universalism holding instead that there can be a plurality of true or equally justified moralities insofar as two contradictory moral claims can both be ... Full text Cite

Confucian and Daoist Traditions on Love

Chapter · 2018 This chapter is about Confucian and Daoist views of love in the classical age (6th - 3rd c. B.C.E.). For the Confucians, love is the core of a central moral virtue. Family love is the foundation for developing an inclusive love for all human beings. Whet ... Cite

Responses to Snow, Miller, and Seok

Journal Article Dao · November 1, 2017 Full text Cite

"Making an Effort to Understand"

Journal Article The Ultimate Guide from Philosophy Now · November 2017 This was first published in Philosophy Now magazine, included in their "bookazine" as The Ultimate Guide" to philosophy, issue one: ethics. ... Cite

"Moral Sentimentalism in Early Confucian Thought"

Chapter · September 30, 2017 Sentimentalism. in. Early. Confucian. Thought. David. B. Wong. This essay is an exploration of what Mencius (fourth century BCE) and Xunzi (fourth and third centuries BCE) in the classical Confucian tradition have to say about cultivating goodness in pe ... Cite

DIgnity in Confucian and Buddhist Thought

Chapter · June 1, 2017 In this volume, leading scholars across a range of disciplines attempt to answer such questions by clarifying the presently murky history of "dignity," from classical Greek thought through the Middle Ages and Enlightenment to the present ... ... Cite

The Excitement of Crossing Boundaries

Journal Article Journal of World Philosophies · June 2017 I describe my intellectual influences ... Link to item Cite

Constructive Skepticism and Being a Mirror in the Zhuangzi

Journal Article Journal of Chinese Philosophy · March 1, 2017 The Zhuangzi text deploys two epistemic themes to accomplish its ends of combatting human pretensions to know the world and to prompting us to rediscover the world through fresh eyes. To get us to shed our arrogant dispositions it applies a constructive sk ... Full text Cite

Institutional structures and idealism of character

Journal Article Philosophy East and West · January 1, 2017 Full text Open Access Cite

Reflection dignity in confucian and Buddhist thought

Chapter · January 1, 2017 "Dignity" in the Western tradition typically connotes the inherent and unearned worth that entitles each person to respectful attitudes and treatment. Confucian and Buddhist thought contains concepts that overlap with this concept, making possible a three- ... Full text Cite

Xunzi's Metaethics

Chapter · November 9, 2016 such a famous classical master living shortly before unification by Qin in 221 BCE .7 More surprising (and no less significant) are the number of indirect citations of Xunzi's work in Han essays and poems. But evidence of Xunzi's influence does&nb ... Cite

Naturalizing Ethics

Chapter · February 5, 2016 In this chapter, we provide (1) an argument for why ethics should be naturalized, (2) an analysis of why it is not yet naturalized, (3) a defense of ethical naturalism against two fallacies - Hume's and Moore's - that ethical naturalism allegedly commits, ... Full text Cite

MORAL RELATIVISM

Book · January 1, 2016 Cite

Responses to Commentators

Journal Article Dao · June 26, 2015 Full text Cite

Early Confucian Philosophy and the Development of Compassion

Journal Article Dao · June 26, 2015 Metaphors of adorning, crafting, water flowing downward, and growing sprouts appear in the Analects (Lunyu 論語), the Mencius (Mengzi 孟子), and the Xunzi 荀子. They express and guide thinking about what there is in human nature to cultivate and how it is to be ... Full text Open Access Cite

Conserving Nature; Preserving Identity

Journal Article Journal of Chinese Philosophy · June 2015 Cite

Conserving Nature; Preserving Identity

Journal Article Journal of Chinese Philosophy · March 1, 2015 There are two broad approaches to environmental ethics. The “conservationist” approach on which we should conserve the environment when it is in our interest to do so and the “preservationist” approach on which we should preserve the environment even when ... Full text Cite

Growing Virtue: The Theory and Science of Developing Compassion from a Mencian Perspective

Chapter · 2015 This paper is a development of earlier attempts of mine to interpret what conception of the moral development of natural compassion is contained in the Mencius. I bring crucial features of this conception into dialogue with contemporary science on the deve ... Cite

Integrating philosophy with anthropology in an approach to morality

Journal Article Anthropological Theory · January 1, 2014 Philosophy and anthropology need to integrate their accounts of what a morality is. I identify three desiderata that an account of morality should satisfy: (1) it should recognize significant diversity and variation in the major kinds of value, (2) it shou ... Full text Cite

Response to Blum, Response to Geisz and Sadler, Response to Hansen, Response to Gowans, Response to Bloomfield and Massey, Response to Huang

Chapter · 2014 This is a book of commentaries on my book Natural Moralities, and includes my responses to the commentators. Present in press, awaiting proofs. ... Cite

Cultivating the Self in Concert with Others

Chapter · January 1, 2014 The Analects is a series of glimpses into how Confucius and his students engaged in their projects of moral self-cultivation. This chapter seeks to describe the way in which the outlines of a moral psychology arises from the text and how the text poses iss ... Full text Cite

On learning what happiness is

Journal Article Philosophical Topics · March 1, 2013 I explore conceptions of happiness in classical Chinese philosophers Mengzi and Zhuangzi. In choosing to frame my question with the word 'happiness', I am guided by the desire to draw some comparative lessons for Western philosophy. 'Happiness' has been a ... Full text Open Access Cite

Mencius

Chapter · 2013 Cite

Relativism, Moral

Chapter · 2013 Cite

MORAL RELATIVITY AND TOLERANCE

Chapter · January 1, 2013 From David B. Wong, Moral Relativity, Berkeley CA: University of California Press, 1984, pp. 160–61, 165–75, 180–90, and 232–34. ... Full text Cite

Reconciling the Tension between Similarity and Difference in Critical Hermeneutics

Chapter · 2012 Practicing critical hermeneutics throws us into the tension between two requirements: first, to construe others as being like us; and second, to open ourselves to ways they may differ fundamentally from us and pose challenges to our treasured truths. In th ... Cite

Sustaining Cultures in the Face of Globalization

Journal Article Culture and Dialogue · 2012 Arguments for the preservation of culture are based on an extremely problematic essentialist conception of culture as a fixed entity with an essence. The inadequacy of the essentialist conception has received increasing recognition, but an adequate positiv ... Cite

Complexity and Simplicity in Ancient Greek and Chinese Thought

Chapter · August 2011 This paper was read at a conference on ethics in ancient China and Greek and Roman antiquity held at the University of Munich. Aristotle, the Analects, the Daodejing, and the Zhuangzi are discussed in relation to the values of complexity and simplicity. It ... Cite

Agon and He: Contest and Harmony

Chapter · August 2011 I discuss the value of agon or contest in Greek thought and the value of he or harmony in Chinese thought. I argue that these values, often thought to be mutually exclusive, actually imply one another. ... Cite

Relativist Explanations of Interpersonal and Group Disagreement

Chapter · April 20, 2011 Some relativists might hold, in light of the pervasiveness of disagreement even within groups that largely agree on morality, that the truth - conditions for a moral judgment refer to the moral reasons and norms accepted by the individual speaker. Others m ... Full text Cite

How Are Moral Conversions Possible?

Chapter · 2011 I examine three cases of moral conversion: the fictional case of the Staasi agent in East Germany as depicted in the film, "The Lives of Others," Oskar Schindler, and a leader of the Ku Klux Klan who joined with a militant black activist in the effort to d ... Cite

Making an Effort to Understand

Journal Article Philosophy Now, special issue on the new amorality · 2011 Cite

Pluralism and Ambivalence

Chapter · August 2010 Cite

Review of Reasonable Disagreement by Christopher McMahon

Other Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews · March 2010 Cite

Identifying with nature in early Daoism

Journal Article Journal of Chinese Philosophy · December 1, 2009 Full text Cite

Emotion and the Cognition of Reasons in Moral Motivation

Journal Article Philosophical Issues (metaethics issue of Nous) · October 2009 In some recent work I have developed a theory of moral reasons and their relation to the agent’s motivations. The theory is naturalistic in its approach, meaning that it seeks to integrate a conception of what moral reasons are and how they motivate wit ... Cite

Cultural Pluralism and Moral Identity

Chapter · 2009 I develop a new "conversational" conception of culture that accommodates the characteristics of fluidity and internal diversity of values that have been highlighted by cosmopolitan and postmodern critics of the the essentialist conception of culture. I the ... Cite

Review of François Jullien, Vital Nourishment: Departing from Happiness

Journal Article Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews · April 2008 Cite

Chinese Ethics

Chapter · 2008 Cite

Constructing normative objectivity in ethics

Journal Article Social Philosophy and Policy · January 1, 2008 Full text Cite

Naturalizing Ethics

Chapter · 2007 Cite

If We Are Not by Ourselves, If We Are Not Strangers

Chapter · 2007 This article continues development of the theme that Confucian ethics both recognizes and the relational nature of human identity and furthermore prizes relational identities that are also morally autonomous. I explore the formation of morally autonomous i ... Cite

Moral Reasons: Internal and External

Journal Article Philosophy and Phenomenological Research · 2007 Addresses the question of whether moral reasons stem from existing desires of the agent, from the nature of practical rationality or from outside the agent herself. ... Cite

Natural Moralities: A Defense of Pluralistic Relativism

Book · September 1, 2006 To be called a relativist, especially a moral relativist, is to be condemned as someone who holds that "anything goes". Frequently the term is part of a dichotomy: either accept relativism or accept universalism: the view that only one true morality exists ... Full text Cite

Attachment and Detachment in Daoism, Buddhism, and Stoicism

Journal Article Dao · June 2006 Both Buddhism and Stoicism would appear to recommend the complete elimination of emotional attachment to others. The promise is release from the suffering that arises from loss or anticipated loss of others dear to the self, as emphasized by Buddhism, and ... Cite

Evil and the Morality of Conviction

Chapter · 2006 This essay is about the moral psychology of those who do evil as they wage war upon evil. My focus is the “morality of conviction” that simplifies and polarizes for the sake of meaning, certitude and decisiveness. My primary example will be the downward sp ... Cite

Where Charity Begins

Chapter · 2006 This paper discusses Davidson’s guiding principle for the interpretation of what others believe, desire, and value. Davidson holds that we use ourselves as models for understanding others, and since we regard our own beliefs as true, our own desires as the ... Cite

Moral reasons: Internal and external

Journal Article PHILOSOPHY AND PHENOMENOLOGICAL RESEARCH · 2006 Cite

A relational approach to environmental ethics

Journal Article Journal of Chinese Philosophy · December 1, 2005 Full text Cite

Zhuangzi and the Obsession with Being Right

Journal Article History of Philosophy Quarterly · March 2005 Perhaps the primary interpretive problem in interpreting the Daoist text Zhuangzi is that it alternates between skeptical questioning of purported knowledge claims and apparent advocacy of a certain way of life. I offer an interpretation of the kind o ... Cite

Relational and Autonomous Selves

Journal Article Journal of Chinese Philosophy · December 2004 I discuss the way that the Chinese self could truly be said to be relational and argue that this sense of relationality is compatible with a significant form of moral autonomy that is highly valued in Confucianism. It is in fact a kind of autonomy fre ... Cite

Rights and Community in Confucianism

Chapter · November 2004 This paper argues that there is a basis in the Confucian moral tradition for defending a right to dissent and to free speech, but that this right would be defended on a "communal" ground that such a right would help to promote the common good, rather than ... Cite

Confucian ethics: A comparative study of self, autonomy, and community

Book · January 1, 2004 The Chinese ethical tradition has often been thought to oppose Western views of the self as autonomous and possessed of individual rights with views that emphasize the centrality of relationship and community to the self. The essays in this collection disc ... Full text Cite

Introduction

Chapter · January 1, 2004 East-West comparative ethics has drawn increased attention in recent years, especially comparative discussion of Confucian ethics and Western thought. Such interest stems in part from a growing concern with the political systems of Asian countries, which a ... Full text Cite

Dwelling in Humanity or Free and Easy Wandering?

Chapter · 2003 About the Chinese philosophers Zhuangzi and Xunzi, and the way that the dialectic between them on questions of universalism and relativism bears on the dilemmas of value commitment for contemporary liberals in the West. ... Cite

Cultural Relativism

Chapter · 2003 A discussion of different kinds of relativism that involve cultural difference, an assessment of the arguments for and against each kind, and discussion of the normative implications for these relativisms with special reference to issues of cultural confli ... Cite

Review of Fieldwork in Familiar Places by Michele Moody-Adams

Other Philosophy and Phenomenological Research · 2002 Cite

Mo Tzu

Chapter · 2002 Cite

Crossing Cultures in Moral Psychology

Journal Article Philosophy Today · 2002 Cite

Fieldwork in Familiar Places: Morality, Culture, & Philosophy

Other Philosophy and Phenomenological Research · November 2001 Full text Cite

Review of Richard Garner’s Beyond Morality

Other Philosophy and Phenomenological Research · 1997 Cite

On Care and Justice in the Family

Journal Article Contemporary Philosophy · 1993 Cite

Review of The Conception of Value by Paul Grice

Other Philosophical Books · 1993 Cite

Understanding the Chinese Mind: The Philosophical Roots

Journal Article Philosophy East and West · July 1992 Full text Cite

Living Morally: A Psychology of Moral Character.

Journal Article The Philosophical Review · July 1992 Full text Cite

Coping with Moral Conflict and Ambiguity

Journal Article Ethics · 1992 Cite

Commentary on Sayre-Mccord's "being a realist about relativism"

Journal Article Philosophical Studies · February 1, 1991 Full text Cite

A Relativist Alternative to Anti-Realism

Journal Article Journal of Philosophy · 1990 Cite

Universalism versus Love with Distinctions: An Ancient Debate Revived

Journal Article Journal of Chinese Philosophy · 1989 Cite

Review essay on Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy by Bernard Williams

Journal Article Philosophy and Phenomenological Research · 1989 Cite

UNIVERSALISM VERSUS LOVE WITH DISTINCTIONS: AN ANCIENT DEBATE REVIVED

Journal Article Journal of Chinese Philosophy · January 1, 1989 Full text Cite

ON MORAL REALISM WITHOUT FOUNDATIONS

Journal Article The Southern Journal of Philosophy · January 1, 1986 Full text Cite

Taoism and the Problem of Equal Respect

Journal Article Journal of Chinese Philosophy · 1984 Cite

Cartesian Deduction

Journal Article Philosophy Research Archives · 1982 Cite

Leibniz’s Theory of Relations

Journal Article Philosophical Review · 1980 Cite

Cultivating the Self with Others

Chapter Discusses the contemporary relevance of the moral psychology in the Analects. ... Cite

Rights and Community in Confucianism

Chapter Rights to speech and dissent have a basis in the Confucian tradition, but not in the value of autonomy. Rather, they have a basis in the value of speech and dissent to the communal good. ... Cite

Confucian Perspectives on Pluralism, Gender Relations, and the Family

Chapter Both Confucianism and feminist philosophy have recognized in a way that standard liberal views have not the relevance of family relationships for the moral quality of a society, I explore strengths and problems for their approaches. ... Cite

Morality, Definition of

Chapter Major features attributed to morality are identified and discussed. They fall into two main categories: formal and material. Formal features include prescriptivity, universalizability, overridingness, non-authority dependence, and being about objective fa ... Cite

review of Michael Ing, The Vulnerability of Integrity

Other Dao: a journal of comparative philosophy Cite