Zhu Xi and the Fact/Value Debate: How to Derive Ought from Is

  • Yong HuangEmail author
Part of the Dao Companions to Chinese Philosophy book series (DCCP, volume 13)


In this chapter, I shall first examine two formalistic attempts to derive ought from is and show why they are not successful. Then I shall discuss the substantive attempt to derive ought from is made by contemporary Aristotelian virtue ethicists, particularly Rosalind Hursthouse. I argue that such an attempt proceeds in the right direction. Its problem largely lies more in the is part than the ought part: since the descriptive is statement is problematic, the normative ought statement derived from it becomes also problematic. So in the last section of this chapter, I examine Zhu Xi’s neo-Confucian attempt to derive ought from is, which in general structure is similar to the neo-Aristotelian one but starts with a different is statement. I argue that this neo-Confucian one is more promising.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongPeople’s Republic of China

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