Mencius's vertical faculties and moral nativism

Asian Philosophy 18 (1):51 – 68 (2008)
This paper compares and contrasts Mencius's moral philosophy with recent development in cognitive science regarding mental capacity to understand moral rules and principles. Several cognitive scientists argue that the human mind has innate cognitive and emotive foundations of morality. In this paper, Mencius's moral theory is interpreted from the perspective of faculty psychology and cognitive modularity, a theoretical hypothesis in cognitive science in which the mind is understood as a system of specialized mental components. Specifically, Mencius's Four Beginnings (the basic human emotions that serve as the foundations of morality) are interpreted as vertical faculties, comparable to Scottish philosopher Thomas Reid's moral faculties
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