May Sim


Philosophy Department

Director of Asian Studies Program
Ph.D., Vanderbilt University

Fields: Ancient Philosophy (Plato & Aristotle), Asian Philosophy (Confucianism & Daoism), ethics, metaphysics and human rights

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Office Phone: 508-793-2508
Office: Smith 522
PO Box: 0148A
Office Hours: WF 12:00-1:00; T 11:30-2:00 (Zoom) & by appointments



May Sim received her Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. Her dissertation, Aristotle’s Understanding of Form and Universals, was directed by Alasdair C. MacIntyre. She is the contributing editor of The Crossroads of Norm and Nature: Essays on Aristotle's Ethics and Metaphysics (1995) and From Puzzles to Principles?: Essays on Aristotle’s Dialectic (1999). Her book, Remastering Morals with Aristotle and Confucius, Cambridge University Press (2007), is a comparison of the ethical life in Aristotle and Confucius.  She is currently working on a booklength account of human rights from the Confucian perspective, and a book on Metaphysics and Ethics: East & West. She was the President of the Southwestern Philosophical Society (2006), the current director of the Asian Studies Program at Holy Cross, and the current director of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy (BACAP 45th Annual Program 2023-24).  She was also the 62nd President of the Metaphysical Society of America (2013 MSA) and the President of the 49th Annual Conference of the Northern New England Philosophical Association (2019 NNEPA).  Sim is a fellow (2021-23) of the Center for Contemporary Aristotelian Studies in Ethics and Politics (CASEP). 

Selected Publications

Confucianism & Western Philosophy Comparisons

“Aristotle in the Reconstruction of Confucian Ethics,” International Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. XLI, no. 4, Issue 164 (December 2001): 453-468

“Ritual and Realism in Early Chinese Science,” Journal of Chinese Philosophy, no. 4, Vol. 29, (December 2002): 501-523
“The Moral Self in Confucius and Aristotle,” International Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 43, no. 4, Issue 172 (December 2003): 439-462
“Harmony and the Mean in the Nicomachean Ethics and the Zhongyong,” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy, Vol. 3, no. 2 (2004): 253-280
“Categories and Commensurability in Confucius and Aristotle: A Response to MacIntyre,” in Categories: Historical and Systematic Essays, M. Gorman and J. Sanford, eds. Catholic University of America Press, (2004), 58-77
“Virtue Oriented Politics: Confucius and Aristotle,” in Aristotle’s Politics Today, Lenn E. Goodman and Robert Talisse, eds. SUNY Press (October 2007), 53-75
“Dewey and Confucius: On Moral Education,” Journal of Chinese Philosophy: Special Issue on Chinese Philosophy and American Philosophy, Volume 36, Issue 1 (2009): 85-105 (See also the Introduction of this issue, “American Pragmatism and Early Chinese Philosophy,” 3-8) 
“Rethinking Honor with Aristotle and Confucius,” Review of Metaphysics 66 (December 2012):263-280
“A Natural Law Approach to Law: Are the Confucians and the Thomists Commensurable?” in Journal of Comparative Law: Studies in Comparative Law no. 12, Russell Wilcox and Anthony Carty, eds. (London : Wildy, Simmonds & Hill Publishing, 2015)

“Why Confucius’s Ethics is a Virtue Ethics,” in Companion to Virtue Ethics, edited by M. Slote and L. Besser-Jones (Routledge, 2015), 63-76
“Economic Goods, Common Goods and the Good Life,” in Value and Values: Economics and Justice in an Age of Global Interdependence, Roger T. Ames and Peter D. Hershock, eds. (University of Hawaii Press, 2015) 441-459
“Desiring Wisdom and Truth with Aristotle and Zhu Xi,” in Wisdom and Philosophy: East and West, edited by Hans-Georg Möller and Andrew Whitehead, (Bloomsbury Academic, 2016)

“The Phronimos and the Sage,” in Oxford Handbook of Virtue, ed. Nancy E. Snow (Oxford University Press, 2018)
Daoism Comparisons

“Is the Liezi an Encheiridion?” in Riding the Wind with Liezi: New Essays on the Daoist Classic, Ronnie Littlejohn Jeffrey Dippmann, eds. SUNY Press (2011) 
“Being and Unity in the Ethics and Metaphyscis of Aristotle and Liezi,” in How Should One Live? Comparing Ethics in Ancient China & Greco-Roman Antiquity, edited by Richard King and Dennis Schilling (de Gruyter, 2011)
“Travelling with Laozi and Plato,” in Landscape and Travelling East and West: A Philosophical Journey, eds. Hans-Georg Möller and Andrew Whitehead, (Bloomsbury Academic, 2014), 53-70

"Confucian and Daoist Virtue Ethics" in Varieties of Virtue Ethics, ed., David Carr (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017)

"Imagination and the Real in Zhuangzi and Plato," in Imagination: Cross-Cultural Philosophical Analyses, eds. Hans-Georg Möller and Andrew Whitehead, (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018)

"Moving Naturally for Aristotle, Laozi, and Zhuangzi," in Knowing and Being in Ancient Philosophy, eds. Daniel Bloom, Laurence Bloom and Miriam Byrd, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022)
“Laozi and Zhu Xi on Knowledge and Virtue,” in Oxford Handbook of Chinese Philosophy, edited by J. Tiwald (forthcoming, Oxford University Press)

Confucianism & Human Rights

“A Confucian Approach to Human Rights,” History of Philosophy Quarterly, Volume 21, Number 4, (October 2004): 337-356
“Rethinking Virtue Ethics and Social Justice with Aristotle and Confucius,” Asian Philosophy, Vol. 20, no. 2 (2010):195-213
“Rival Confucian Rights: Left or Right Confucianism?” International Philosophical Quarterly, (March 2011)
“Confucian Values and Human Rights,” Review of Metaphysics (September 2013): 3-27

"Confucian Values and Resources for Justice," in Justice, ed., Mark LeBar (Oxford University Press, 2018)
“Justifying Human Rights in Confucianism” in The Bloomsbury Research Handbook of Early Chinese Ethics and Political Philosophy, edited by A. McLeod (Bloomsbury, 2019).

Metaphysics & Ethics

“From Metaphysics to Environmental Ethics: Aristotle or Zhu Xi?” in Democracy, Ecological Integrity and International Law, eds. Ron Engel, Laura Westra & Klaus Bosselmann (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2010) 
“The Question of Being, Non-Being, and ‘Creation Ex Nihilo’ in Chinese Philosophy,” in The Ultimate Why Question: Why is There Anything at All Rather Than Nothing Whatsoever?, John F. Wippel, ed. (CUA Press 2011)
“The Divided Line and the United Psychê in Plato’s Republic,” in Ancient Ethics, edited by J. Hardy and G. Rudebusch, V&R Unipress GmbH (2014), 183-196
Presidential Address of the 64th Annual Metaphysical Society of America Meeting, “From Metaphysics to Ethics, East and West,” Review of Metaphysics 68 (March 2015): 487-509

"Identifying with the Confucian Heaven: Immanent and Transcendent Dao," in Spirituality and the Good Life: Philosophical Approaches, ed., David L. McPherson (Cambridge University Press, 2018)
“Self-Determination and the Metaphysics of Human Nature in Aristotle and Mencius,” in Dao Companion to the Philosophy of Mencius, edited by Chong Kim-chong (forthcoming)