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Wee, Cecilia. Xin, Trust, and Confucius’ Ethics
2011, Philosophy East and West, 61 (3): 516-533.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Ian James Kidd
Abstract: Confucius frequently employs the term xin 信 in the Analects. The frequency of his usage suggests that xin has a significant place within his ethics. The main aim of this article is to offer an account of the roles played by xin within Confucius' ethics. To have a clear understanding of these roles, however, one needs first to understand what Confucius encompasses within his notion of xin. The article begins by delineating the Confucian conception of xin, as presented in the Analects. The notion of xin is often taken to be isomorphic with the notion of trust. I argue that Confucius' notion of xin does not quite map onto the notion of trust as usually understood in contemporary Western contexts. To understand better what Confucian xin amounts to, I compare and contrast the Confucian conception of xin with contemporary Western accounts of trust by Baier, McLeod, and Mullin. This comparison helps elucidate what xin is as well as how xin relates to morality. With this in hand, the roles that Confucius ascribes to xin in social and political contexts are then delineated.

Comment: Clear discussion of Confucian conceptions of trustworthiness and trust and their roles in the moral life. Useful for those who want to do comparative work with Chinese philosophy.

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