Volume 17, Issue 9 e12868

The Confucian Ren and Care Debate: Reassessment, Development, and Future Directions

Chenyang Li

Corresponding Author

Chenyang Li

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore


Chenyang Li, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore.

Email: [email protected]

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First published: 04 August 2022


It has been three decades since comparative philosophers began to associate the Confucian concept of ren 仁 with contemporary Western care ethics. It would be useful to revisit the issue and to reassess related debates. In this essay, I first contextualize this discourse by tracing the emergence of care as a philosophical concept in the West and explicate the Confucian concept of ren in terms of care as it is formulated in classic texts. Then I respond to challenges, including opposing views from influential care ethicists Nel Noddings and Virginia Held. I also discuss some promising studies to further this discourse.