•  1
    Understanding Change: The Interdependent Self in its Environment
    Journal of Chinese Philosophy 34 (5): 81-99. 2007.
  • New Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Chinese Philosophy
    Journal of Chinese Philosophy 34 (5): 3-8. 2007.
  •  1
    Skill and Mastery Philosophical Stories from the Zhuangzi (edited book)
    Rowman and Littlefield International. 2019.
  •  143
    The Cicada Catcher: Learning for Life
    In Karyn L. Lai & Wai-wai Chiu (eds.), Skill and Mastery Philosophical Stories from the Zhuangzi, Rowman and Littlefield International. 2019.
    The cicada catcher focuses as much on technique as he does on outcomes. In response to Confucius’ question, he articulates in detail the learning he has undertaken to develop techniques at each level of competence. This chapter explains the connection between the cicada catcher’s development of technique and his orientation toward outcomes. It uses details in this story to contribute to recent discussions in epistemology on the cultivation of technique.
  •  181
    In the Lunyu, Confucius remarks on the implausibility—or impossibility—of a life lacking in xin 信, reliability (2.22). In existing discussions of Confucian philosophy, this aspect of life is often eclipsed by greater emphasis on Confucian values such as ren 仁 (benevolence), li 禮 (propriety) and yi 義 (rightness). My discussion addresses this imbalance by focusing on reliability, extending current debates in two ways. First, it proposes that the common translation of xin as denoting coherence betw…Read more
  •  2
    Assessing participation skills: online discussions with peers
    Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education 37 (8): 933-947. 2012.
    Many tertiary-level courses assess students’ participation in tutorial or online discussions. However, in educational and pedagogical research literature, criteria for assessing students’ skills in engaging with peers remain unclear. This article describes an online assignment with a set of participation criteria and a method for assessing the quality of students’ interactions with peers. The assignment focuses on students’ ability to utilise their critical thinking skills while engaging with pe…Read more
  •  121
    Emotional Attachment and Its Limits: Mengzi, Gaozi and the Guodian Discussions
    Frontiers of Philosophy in China 14 (1): 132-151. 2019.
    Mengzi maintained that both benevolence (ren 仁) and rightness (yi 義) are naturally-given in human nature. This view has occupied a dominant place in Confucian intellectual history. In Mencius 6A, Mengzi's interlocutor, Gaozi, contests this view, arguing that rightness is determined by (doing what is fitting, in line with) external circumstances. I discuss here some passages from the excavated Guodian texts, which lend weight to Gaozi's view. The texts reveal nuanced considerations of relational …Read more
  •  61
    Discussions of human partiality—anthropocentrism—in the literature in environmental ethics have sought to locate reasons for unnecessary and thoughtless degradation of the earth’s environment. Many of the debates have focused on metaethical issues, attempting to set out the values appropriate for an environmental ethic not constrained within an anthropocentric framework. In this essay, I propose that the fundamental problem with anthropocentrism arises when it is assumed that that is the only me…Read more
  •  73
    Since the 1940s, Western epistemology has discussed Gilbert Ryle’s distinction between knowledge-that and knowledge-how. Ryle argued that intelligent actions – manifestations of knowledge-how – are not constituted as intelligent by the guiding intervention of knowledge-that: knowledge-how is not a kind of knowledge-that; we must understand knowledge-how in independent terms. Yet which independent terms are needed? In this chapter, we consider whether an understanding of intelligent action must i…Read more
  •  46
    Ren: An Exemplary Life
    In Amy Olberding (ed.), Dao Companion to the Analects, Springer. pp. 83-94. 2014.
    This chapter discusses ren 仁, a major term in the Confucian Analects. It analyzes the range of meanings of ren across different conversations, paying special attention to its associations with other key Confucian terms such as li (禮 behavioural propriety) and zhi (知 understanding). Building on this analysis, the discussion focuses on ren in terms of how it is manifest in a person’s life. In particular, it expresses ren in terms of an exemplary life—a life lived well. The chapter also dwells brie…Read more
  •  8
    Learning from Chinese philosophies
    Taylor and Francis. 2006.
    Learning from Chinese Philosophies engages Confucian and Daoist philosophies in creative interplay, developing a theory of interdependent selfhood in the two philosophical traditions. Karyn Lai draws on the unique insights of the two philosophies to address contemporary debates on ethics, community and government. Issues discussed include questions on selfhood, attachment, moral development, government, culture and tradition, and feminist queries regarding biases and dualism in ethics. Throughou…Read more
  •  116
    An Introduction to Chinese Philosophy (2nd ed.)
    Cambridge University Press. 2018.
    This comprehensive introductory textbook to early Chinese philosophy covers a range of philosophical traditions which arose during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods in China, including Confucianism, Mohism, Daoism, and Legalism. It considers concepts, themes and argumentative methods of early Chinese philosophy and follows the development of some ideas in subsequent periods, including the introduction of Buddhism into China. The book examines key issues and debates in early Chines…Read more
  •  17
    Both Ancient Chinese and Greek philosophers provide accounts of the life lived well: a Confucian junzi, a Daoist sage and a Greek phronimos. Cultivation in Early China and Ancient Greece engages in comparative, cross-tradition scholarship and investigates the processes associated with cultivating or nurturing the self in order to live such lives. By focusing on the processes rather than the aims of cultivating a good life, an international team of scholars investigate how a person develops and …Read more
  •  8
    Skill and Mastery: Philosophical Stories From the Zhuangzi
    Rowman & Littlefield International. 2019.
    This valuable collection of illuminating analysis of skill stories from the Zhuangzi, a 4th century BCE Daoist text opens up new lines of inquiry in comparative East-West philosophical debates on skill, cultivation and mastery, as well as cross-disciplinary debates in psychology, cognitive science and philosophy.
  •  8
    Reflections on Analogical Thinking: The Centrality of Discretion
    Australasian Philosophical Review 1 (3): 229-235. 2017.
  •  52
    The Routledge Companion to Virtue Ethics eds. by Lorraine Besser-Jones and Michael Slote (review)
    Philosophy East and West 68 (2): 639-645. 2018.
    The Routledge Companion to Virtue Ethics, edited by Lorraine Besser-Jones and Michael Slote, is unusual among the recent crop of handbooks, encyclopedias, and compendiums in philosophy in a couple of respects. First, as well as presenting up-to-date surveys of the field, the Companion includes a number of entries that also engage in argument and negotiate tensions between different positions—some even questioning the nature of virtue ethics itself. These chapters are particularly interesting as …Read more
  •  50
    Global Thinking
    The Philosophers' Magazine 80 64-69. 2018.
  •  7
    Conceptual Foundations for Environmental Ethics: A Daoist Perspective
    Environmental Ethics 25 (3): 247-266. 2003.
    The concepts dao and de in the Daodejing may be evoked to support a distinctive and plausible account of environmental holism. Dao refers to the totality of particulars, including the relations that hold between them, and the respective roles and functions of each within the whole. De refers to the distinctiveness of each particular, realized meaningfully only within the context of its interdependence with others, and its situatedness within the whole. Together, dao and de provide support for an…Read more
  •  68
    Kam-por Yu, Julia Tao, and Philip J. Ivanhoe (eds.), Taking Confucian Ethics Seriously: Contemporary Theories and Applications Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-6 DOI 10.1007/s11712-011-9253-y Authors Karyn Lai, School of History of Philosophy, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia Journal Dao Online ISSN 1569-7274 Print ISSN 1540-3009
  •  64
    For a while now, there has been much conceptual discussion about the respective natures of knowledge-that and knowledge-how, along with the intellectualist idea that knowledge-how is really a kind of knowledge-that. Gilbert Ryle put in place most of the terms that have so far been distinctive of that debate, when he argued for knowledge-how's conceptual distinctness from knowledge-that. But maybe those terms should be supplemented, expanding the debate. In that spirit, the conceptual option of p…Read more
  •  105
    Understanding Confucian Ethics: Reflections on Moral Development
    Australian Journal of Professional and Applied Ethics 9 (2). 2007.
    The standard criticisms of Confucian ethics appear contradictory. On the one hand, Confucian ethics is deemed overly rule-bound: it is obsolete because it advocates adherence to ancient Chinese norms of proper conduct. On the other hand, Confucian ethics is perceived as situational ethics—done on the run—and not properly grounded in fundamental principles or norms. I give reasons for these disparate views of Confucian ethics. I also sketch an account of Confucian morality that focuses on moral d…Read more