Xunzi’s Political Philosophy

Part of the Dao Companions to Chinese Philosophy book series (DCCP, volume 7)


This chapter lays out fundamental aspects of Xunzi’s political philosophy, arguing that his political thought is best understood as a virtue-based theory naturally extending from his virtue-based moral theory. In developing this interpretation, this chapter looks at the arguments that Xunzi uses in constructing his vision of political order, in particular analyzing why Xunzi believes humans need to live in society, the features of both human nature and the external world that make this challenging, and how to overcome them. By examining the differences between the hegemon and the true king, the essay lays out and analyzes Xunzi’s arguments for why his political theory is more effective than any alternative not grounded on virtue.


Prime Minister Social Contract Political Organization Normative Sense Political Thought 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I would like to thank Eric L. Hutton, Philip J. Ivanhoe, Elijah Millgram, Richard Kim, Chandran Kukathas, and Cynthia Stark for their comments on various versions of this chapter, as well as two anonymous reviewers from Springer.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Public PolicyCity University of Hong KongKowloon TongHong Kong

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