Rationality and moral agency - a study of Xunzi's philosophy

"Rationality" is generally regarded as a concept exclusive to Western philosophy. In this paper I intend to show that even if in Chinese philosophy there is not a term equivalent to “rationality” in Western philosophy, Chinese philosophers have discussed rational beings in their own way. More specifically, I will argue that in Xunzi’s philosophy humans are rational beings, and their ability to think and act rationally is what makes moral agency possible. Although Xunzi might not have used the word "rational," his moral agents are perfectly rational. Unlike Mengzi's moral agents whose morality is an outgrowth of their innate moral sentiments, the morality of Xunzi's moral agents is conditional on their prudence.


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