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Abstract

A hallmark of Confucian morality is its emphasis on duties to family and kin as weighty features of moral life. The virtue of ‘filiality’ or ‘filial piety’ (xiaoinline image), for example, is one of the most important in the Confucian canon. This aspect of Confucianism has been of renewed interest recently. On the one hand, some have claimed that, precisely because it acknowledges the importance of kin duties, Confucianism should be seen as an ethics rooted in human nature that remains a viable system of morality today. On the other hand, some have argued that the extreme emphasis on filial duties is precisely the aspect of Confucian moral philosophy that ought to be jettisoned in favor of greater impartialism; without mitigating its emphasis on filial piety, Confucianism risks irrelevance to modern concerns. In this study, I will outline the nature of filial morality in the Confucian tradition and discuss these recent contributions to the literature.