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Abstract 摘要

This essay explores the doctrine of the mean as the key concept in Confucian thought and practice, contending that it has both general and specific dimensions as it recognizes the absoluteness of moral and ethical principles while acknowledging the importance of relativity in concrete situations when those principles are used. The notion of the “mean” is thus not merely a moral virtue that enables the avoidance of extremes; rather, it is utilitarian because it looks for goodness and effectiveness.

This essay points out that the Confucian notion of the mean can be applied to a wide range of bioethical issues, particularly the way we look at life and death in the case of euthanasia and abortion. In Western moral philosophy, there has always been some disagreement about the importance of principles and rules to morality exemplified by the debate between Kantians and utilitarians. The essay argues that the doctrine of the mean in Confucianism offers an alternative way of examining the differences between these two moral approaches.

中庸是孔子儒學思想的核心。中庸既承認絕對道德的存在,即“玄德”的存在,又承認具體道德的相對性,即“時權”的方法。與此同時,中庸帶有一定的功利主義的思想。本文認為,中庸的思想可以用不同的方式,解決義務論和功利主義(或效益主義)之間的矛盾。由於中庸提倡既不能“過”,也不能“不及”,其思想為我們看待生命倫理學原則的一般性和特殊性的關係、義務性和功利性的關係,以及對我們解決生命倫理學中的具體問題,如生死,提供了理論與實踐的基礎。

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