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Frontiers of Philosophy in China

ISSN 1673-3436 (Print)
ISSN 1673-355X (Online)
CN 11-5743/B
Postal Subscription Code 80-983


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, Volume 9 Issue 1 Previous Issue    Next Issue
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Justice and Civic Friendship: An Aristotelian Critique of Modern Citizenry
Rajesh C. Shukla
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (1): 1-20.
Abstract   PDF (289KB)

Modern moral and political theorists make a sharp separation between justice and civic friendship, arguing that justice deals with the fair terms of co-operation in the social sphere whereas civic friendship is about an individual’s contingent affections in the political domain. In addition, they also argue that the principles of justice must determine the nature and function of civic friendship in modern liberal society. Even though the historical origin of the above view can be traced to the writings of Immanuel Kant (2007), John Rawls provides us with its most cogent formulation in recent times. In his book A Theory of Justice (1971), Rawls argues that the considerations of right are prior to the considerations of good; therefore the principles of justice must determine the limits of civic friendship. Against Rawls, I argue that justice and civic friendship are intrinsically connected and that they cannot be separated in experience. I draw upon Aristotle’s theory of virtue to strengthen my arguments. Following Aristotle, I show that both justice and friendship are virtues and that all virtues hold together. The Aristotelian coherence of virtues, I argue, can be useful in redefining the obligations of justice and civic friendship in contemporary liberal democracies.

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A Zero-Relationship Justification of Rights: A Contractual Approach Based on Rawls’ Device of the “Original Position”
ZHU Wanrun
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (1): 21-38.
Abstract   PDF (271KB)

In contemporary moral and political philosophy, there are two leading approaches to the justification of rights. These could be broadly identified as deontological theories and consequential theories. These two schools of theories each have their own strengths and weakness, while there is also a third contractual approach that is under represented. Because Rawls’ and Scanlon’s well-known contractual theories are designed for purposes other than the justification of rights, the purpose of this paper is to establish a principle of rights on the basis of Rawls’ justification device of the “original position.” First, it supplies a criterion based on human conduct or action. Second, based on this account of human conduct, different types of relationships are constructed and presented to the parties in the “original position.” Third, it will show that the parties in the “original position” would choose one of these relationships as the principle of rights. Finally, Rawls’ first principle of justice will be reformulated. The procedure of choosing a principle of rights in this paper could also be viewed as a demonstration that, when properly situated and motivated, human beings exhibit their potential as rational beings.

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Chinese Religiosity and Chinese Science of Nature
XIE Wenyu
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (1): 39-57.
Abstract   PDF (297KB)

Fung Yu-lan has suggested that Chinese philosophers have been unreceptive to modern science. This suggestion, however, has not been substantiated. This essay is an attempt to provide a justification of Fung’s assertion through an existential analysis of the Chinese concepts of nature. The essay will examine Chinese existential concerns prevailing in Daoism and Confucianism, and these systems’ distaste for the type of scientific study which has become prevalent in the modern world. I also intend to defend the claim that the ultimate concern of the Zhuangzi and the Zhongyong is completely contrary to the one that sustains modern science. A brief comparative discussion between Xu Guangqi and Galileo Galilei will be used to support this claim. My discussion will raise the contention that, to have a better understanding of the development of modern science in China, we have to understand the attitude toward religion that has underpinned modern science.

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The Emergence and Irreducibility of Scientific Knowledge: A Multi-Synergic-Holism
FAN Dongping
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (1): 58-68.
Abstract   PDF (248KB)

The world possesses a hierarchical structure and evolves through emergence. Its levels are the result of emergence, and possess unique properties and functions which their components and emergent bases do not. Each of these levels also possesses basic laws or rules which cannot be logically deduced from other levels, and evince downward causation. Therefore, there are non-linear causal networks among the levels of complex systems in which causal reductionism does not hold. The hierarchical structure is formed in accordance with the increasing organized complexity of the objects, so that different levels give birth to different disciplines, and different disciplines have their own theoretical autonomy and independence. Therefore, theories across different levels are essentially irreducible, and any apparent case of reduction may only be so in the sense of a partial reduction. Emergence-evolution-hierarchy ontology and multi-synergic holism is compatible with reductionism even as it transcends it.

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The Consolations of Boethius
John Lamont
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (1): 69-86.
Abstract   PDF (263KB)

The paper considers the account of happiness given in Boethius’s Consolations of Philosophy. This account claims that happiness requires security of possession, and argues from this requirement to the conclusion that worldly goods, which of their nature cannot be securely possessed, cannot provide happiness. This argument is shown to depend on assuming a life-driven account of human motivation, rather than a goods-driven account of human motivation. The life-driven account, according to which voluntary actions are ultimately motivated by the pursuit of a certain kind of life, is defended against the goods-driven account, according to which actions are motivated by the pursuit of goods the enjoyment of which can only be episodes in a human life. It is claimed that Boethius is right in holding a life-driven account, and that his account of happiness follows from it.

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Husserl on Intentionality as an Essential Property of Consciousness
LI Zhongwei
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (1): 87-108.
Abstract   PDF (315KB)

In the phenomenological tradition intentionality is considered to be an essential property of consciousness. Philosophers from this tradition (Brentano, Husserl, Sartre, etc.) generally share the following two commitments: (i) intentionality is an essential property of consciousness; and (ii) all intentional states are directed at, and are intentionally related to, objects. This view of consciousness has two pressing problems. Firstly, philosophers such as John Searle and David Rosenthal have suggested raw feelings and some forms of seemingly undirected and thus non-intentional feelings as counterexamples to the essential intentionality of conscious states. Secondly, some analytical philosophers and Husserlian scholars inspired by Frege, such as Smith and Føllesdal, deny that every intentional state is related to a correlative object. This paper presents a Husserlian view concerning the essential intentionality of consciousness. It will be shown that both problems can be successfully dealt with from an essentially Husserlian and phenomenological perspective.

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The Meaning of “Existence” and the Contingency of Sense
Markus Gabriel
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (1): 109-129.
Abstract   PDF (302KB)

In this paper I argue first for a revisionary ontology, that is, for an understanding of “existence” as the property of a field not to be empty. In this context, I distinguish between “metaphysics” (the theory of totality or of fundamental reality) and “ontology” (the systematic investigation into the meaning of “existence”). In the second part, I provide a sketch for a corresponding revisionary theory of the modalities in light of the new ontology proposed.

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Conjunctions and/or Disjunctions: Radical Empiricism in the History of Philosophy
Nicholas S. Brasovan
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (1): 130-148.
Abstract   PDF (296KB)

William James challenged the traditions of British Empiricism (Hume) on one hand and German Idealism (Kant and Hegel) on the other. James’ “Radical Empiricism” is a via media (“middle road”) between these divergent positions. His central points of contention are the ontological status of relationships and the correct analysis of experience. British Empiricism leaves us with a world of separate, particular facts, based on atomic sense impressions. Idealists, on the other hand, claim that all worldly phenomena are conjoined by one rational principle. According to James’ account, neither side recognizes that both conjunctive and disjunctive relations are integral to experience. Furthermore, James’ critique proved to influence A. N. Whitehead’s philosophy of experience and orientation toward Hume and Kant. This essay situates James’ philosophy in this polemical and historical context.

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Russell’s Paradox of Predicates
Bernard Linsky
Front. Philos. China. 2014, 9 (1): 149-165.
Abstract   PDF (359KB)

Russell’s letter to Frege of June 16, 1902 contains the famous paradox of the class of all classes which are not members of themselves as well as a second paradox of the predicates that cannot be predicated of themselves. The latter paradox arises out of Russell’s theory of classes and class concepts in Principles of Mathematics.

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11 articles