From what I have been able to glean from on-line secondary sources about Confucian ethics, the following virtues seem to be particularly important:
- ren (compassion, benevolence, care, respect for others)
- straightforwardness, sincerity
- yi (honor, righteousness)
- sense of shame, dignity
- xiao (filial piety)
- loyalty (faithfulness, fidelity)
- self control
- li (propriety, respect for authority, decorum, religion, reverence, etiquette)
- xi (moral wisdom)
- he (harmony)
As with “care ethics,” Confucian ethics are not impartial, but are sensitive to one’s position and relationships. One should look out for the honor of one’s self, one’s family, one’s lord, in particular. One should perform the particular duties of one’s station in life. One should exercise care for people, but particularly for one’s own parents. And so forth.
The Confucian theorist Mencius believed that there were innate, instinctive proto-virtues in (just about) everybody: a form of empathy/compassion, a desire to behave courteously, a sense of shame/disgust, and a basic idea of right & wrong. From these innate, untutored beginnings, the rest of the virtues can be cultivated through reflection, training, and sincere ritual practice.
One thing in particular that I thought might be worth exploring is the Confucian use of rituals as a form of practice that can prepare a person to have the right disposition to a situation when it arises.