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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


, Volume 10 Issue 4

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Special Theme
Harmony and Justice
Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (4): 533-546.
Abstract   PDF (292KB)

The reason why justice and harmony are the most-prized values and the highest aims of human beings is that these qualities are the foundation which makes possible the realization of all other positive goals. Interpersonal conflicts and conflicts between individuals and the society lead to social, cultural, and moral crises. Confucian culture argues that moral reason is only possessed by human beings, and that this is what can make human existence harmonious and rational. Harmony creates power, and power can defeat impediments. As a result, physical qualities are humanized, and moral qualities increase. Goodness promotes the establishment of mutually beneficial systems and procedural justice in a society. Therefore, Chinese traditional culture provides a method for resolving contemporary social conflicts and crises, including accumulating goodness to increase virtue, constructing social integrity and harmonious righteousness, and the building up of a just society.

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Confucian Political Philosophy for Non-Confucians
Ralph Weber
Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (4): 547-567.
Abstract   PDF (328KB)

Contemporary proponents of Confucian political philosophy often ignore the fact that any sizeable future Confucian political order will have to accommodate many “non-Confucians.” The guiding question of this paper is therefore the following: how could a Confucian political philosophy, if it can at all, adequately take into account a plurality of comprehensive worldviews? I first turn to John Rawls and his account of these terms and of reasonable pluralism more generally. I then examine some particularly relevant developments and criticism of Rawls’ account. Finally, I offer a discussion of some recent proposals for a Confucian political philosophy, and examine to what extent each recognizes the fact of pluralism, sees it as a challenge, and deals with it in a persuasive manner. The paper concludes with a depiction of two major stumbling blocks that might stand firmly in the way of such a pluralism-accommodating political Confucianism.

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Can Rawls’ Constructivism Avoid the Euthyphro Dilemma? In Reply to Shafer-Landau
Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (4): 568-578.
Abstract   PDF (234KB)

In this essay, I consider two challenges implicit in Russ Shafer-Landau’s criticism of constructivists: the realism challenge and the relativism challenge, respectively. I do not try to offer a decisive set of objections to the challenges; instead I argue that some objective versions of constructivism, especially Rawls’s constructivism, are not susceptible to the criticisms.

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The Priority of “Liberty” or “Ping An ”: Two Different Cultural Value Priorities and Their Impacts
XU Keqian
Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (4): 579-600.
Abstract   PDF (433KB)

“Liberty” is a core, prior value of modern Western culture, and particularly of Anglo-American political and economic discourse. For more than a century, the US and other Western countries have been doing their utmost to promote the value of liberty around the world. However, different nations and cultures have different value priorities. Considering “liberty” as the essential, unassailable prior value is an Anglo-American cultural particularity without universal applicability. In China, “liberty” as a high value is a new idea imported from the West at the beginning of the modern era which never enjoyed a very important position in ancient China. Generally speaking, in Chinese culture, the value of “ping an,” with its connotations of peace, safety, equality, health, harmony, and tranquility, is obviously a prior value. Different value priorities have different impacts on culture. This paper tries to compare the American value priority of “liberty” with the Chinese value priority of “ping an,” while discussing their different historical backgrounds and cultural impacts. It argues that values and value priorities are neither absolute nor universal, but that they are rather historical, situational, and dynamic. Value priority in a society should be based on that society’s particular social reality and on the stage of development and the life requirements of its people, rather than on an outside imperative. In the era of globalization, different and even sometimes contradictory human values may actually mutually complement and counterbalance one another.

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How to Construct Marxian Thoughts as a Political Philosophy?
ZANG Fengyu
Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (4): 601-614.
Abstract   PDF (304KB)

Importance of contemporary political philosophy has increased in recent decades. Since the 1970s, studies of Marx’s theories have become an important part of the discussion within contemporary theories of justice. More extensive studies concerning Marxist political philosophy from multiple perspectives are becoming a focal point in other fields of academic research. “How to understand Marx’s political philosophy?” has been a classic question for over a hundred years. Not an academic philosopher himself, Marx seems not to have issued a complete or consistent political philosophy by today’s standards, so it is only natural that his views would be interpreted differently by different scholars. While it is justifiable for us to construct Marx’s political philosophy, we must do it through a comprehensive theoretical reflection, and our construction must take full account of the history of the interpretations of Marx’s political philosophy. This applies especially of his theory of justice—a history which has lasted for more than a century. It is even more important for us to reread the original texts, particularly Marx’s early philosophical writings, and take them as the textual foundation for Marx’s political philosophy.

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Liberal and Communitarian Discourse: An African Perspective
Olasunkanmi Aborisade
Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (4): 615-628.
Abstract   PDF (259KB)

The issue addressed in this essay is what constitutes the most appropriate type of relationship between the individual and society. Because African countries have generally not been successful reconstructing their societies in a manner that can significantly help their peoples to realize their human potential, they are in need of social reconstruction. In their attempts to find a solution to this problem, African scholars—both post-colonial African nationalist leaders and contemporary African philosophers and scholars of African culture—have fixed on the idea that a liberal or communitarian ideology can reverse the collapse of shared values. Many of these scholars claim that the roots of communitarianism go back to indigenous African societies. Others, meanwhile, have discovered something in the African way of life that makes African society effectively liberal. This essay holds that none of these attempts to solve the problem of the dislocation of African values succeed, due to the inadequacies inherent in both liberalism and communitarianism. I suggest instead that the only solution to Africa’s social problem is the provision by the government of an essential foundation for the pursuit of such public benefits as peace, welfare, and the opportunity for the individual to pursue his or her own happiness.

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Research Article
Humanity and Paternal Eros: The Father-Son Relationship in Comparative Perspective
Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (4): 629-646.
Abstract   PDF (380KB)

This paper examines the human relational patterns presented in the philosophical writings of the Confucian thinker Dai Zhen (戴震1724–77) and the Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas’s (1906–95) Totality and Infinity to uncover the ethical significance of the father-son relationship. I argue that for both thinkers the father-son relation is not just one type of human relationship among other social dyads, but rather, of greater significance, serves as the paradigmatic model of the ethical human relationship in bringing to light the idea of the ethical self as a responsible being in relation to others.

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Invariance and Scientific Representation
LIU Chuang
Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (4): 647-667.
Abstract   PDF (310KB)

This paper argues for an invariantist view of scientific representation. First, it introduces the deflationary view that sees models in science as no different in essence from symbolic vehicles, which are derivative and adopted pragmatically, as a matter of convention. After analyzing this deflationary view and pointing out its shortcomings, it argues that representations play at least two radically different roles: one purely symbolic and therefore conventional, and the other epistemic. Finally, it argues that although it is correct to say that all particular external vehicles are introduced via some conventions, they get their jobs done because they are invariant with respect to particular conventions.

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Counterfactuals and Context-Sensitivity
SU Ching Hui
Front. Philos. China. 2015, 10 (4): 668-682.
Abstract   PDF (260KB)

It is commonly agreed that when evaluating the validity of an argument involving context-sensitive expressions, the context should be held fixed. In their 2008 essay “Counterfactuals and Context,” Brogaard and Salerno argue further that context should be held fixed when evaluating an argument involving counterfactuals for validity, since, as many will agree, counterfactuals are context-sensitive. In the present paper, it will however be argued that Brogaard and Salerno fail to distinguish between two different roles that context plays in determining the meaning of a given counterfactual. If they were fully aware of the distinction between these two roles played by context, they might propose a contextualist approach to counterfactuals, as has been developed by Ichikawa in his 2011 paper “Quantifiers, Knowledge, and Counterfactuals.”

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Book Review
14 articles