Eric BaldwinCorresponding author

On Buddhist and Taoist Morality

16/2 - Fall 2011, pages 99-110
Date of online publication: 05 December 2011
Date of publication: 05 December 2011


Arthur Danto argues that all Eastern philosophies—except Confucianism—fail to accept necessary conditions on genuine morality: a robust notion of agency and that actions are praiseworthy only if performed voluntarily, in accordance with rules, and from motives based on the moral worth and well-being of others. But Danto's arguments fail: Neo-Taoism and Mohism satisfy these allegedly necessary constraints and Taoism and Buddhism both posit moral reasons that fall outside the scope of Danto's allegedly necessary conditions on genuine morality. Thus, our initial reaction, that these eastern philosophies offer genuine moral reasons for action, is sustained rather than overturned.


Cite this article

Baldwin, Eric. “On Buddhist and Taoist Morality.” Forum Philosophicum 16, no. 2 (2011): 99–110. doi:10.35765/forphil.2011.1602.16.


Abe, Masao. “The Core of Zen: The Ordinary Mind is Tao.” In Zen and Comparative Studies. Edited by Steven Heine. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1997.

Brannigan, Michael C. The Pulse of Wisdom: The Philosophies of India, China, and Japan. 2nd edition. Belmont: Wadsworth, 2000.

Burton, Watson. Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996.

Chan, Wing-Tsit. “Chinese and Western Interpretations of Jen. ” In Philosophical Questions: East and West, edited by Bina Gupta and J. N. Mohanty. New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000.

Confucius. “Selections from the Analects.” In A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, edited and translated by Wing-Tsit Chan, 18–48. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1963.

Confucius, The Analects. Translated by D. C. Lau. London: Penguin Books, 1998.

Danto, Arthur C. Mysticism and Morality: Oriental Thought and Moral Philosophy. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1972.

Fischner, Ingrid, et al. The Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1999.

Fung, Yu-Lan. A History of Chinese Philosophy. Vol. 2: The Period of Classical Learning from the Second Century B.C. to the Twentieth Century A.D. Princeton Paperbacks, 1973.

Fung, Yu-Lan. A Short History of Chinese Philosophy: A Systematic Account of Chinese Thought From its Origins to the Present Day. New York: The Free Press, 1976.

Hochsmann, Hyun. On Chuang Tzu. Belmont: Wadsworth, 2001.

Laozi. The Daodejing of Laozi. Translation, introduction and commentary by Philip J. Ivanhoe. Seven Bridges Press, New York, 2002.

Legge, James. The Texts of Taoism: Part II. New York: Dover, 1962.

Wei-Hsun Fu, Charles. “Daoism is Chinese Philosophy.” In Companion Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy, edited by Brian Carr and Indira Mahalingam. London and New York: Routledge, 1997.


© Forum Philosophicum