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Moral Theorizing and the Source of Normativity in Classical Chinese Philosophy: An Outline

Abstract

When engaging with classical Chinese ethics, we might end up wondering what kind of moral theorizing we ultimately are confronted with. The accounts and answers to specific practical problems are dispersed throughout the texts and expressed via various codes of composition, ranging from sayings to theoretical reflections to poems. However, what exactly the aim of these theories consists in is not explicitly addressed by systematic second-order reflections. In this article I try to shed some light on the understanding of moral theorizing that underlies the transmitted texts. For this, I adopt an issue-centered approach that attempts to indirectly address the understanding of moral theorizing via the question about the source of normativity. That approach will be tested by drawing on the accounts of Mengzi 孟子 and Cheng Yi 程頤. First conclusions will show that moral theorizing can be understood as the simultaneous business of a moral anatomist and a moral painter.

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Correspondence to Philippe Brunozzi.

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Brunozzi, P. Moral Theorizing and the Source of Normativity in Classical Chinese Philosophy: An Outline. Dao 19, 335–351 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11712-020-09730-3

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Keywords

  • Moral theorizing
  • Normativity
  • Moral reasons
  • Mengzi 孟子
  • Cheng Yi 程頤