Personal Identity, Moral Agency and Liangzhi: A Comparative Study of Korsgaard and Wang Yangming

Comparative Philosophy 6 (1):03-23 (2015)


Christine Korsgaard bases her interpretation of personal identity upon the notion of moral agency and thereby refutes the Reductionist thesis of Derek Parfit. Korsgaard indicates that actions and choices, from the practical standpoint, must be viewed as having agents and choosers. This is what makes them our own actions and choices as well as contributes to the process of self-constitution. Personal identity manifested as the chooser of our desires and author of our actions can be viewed as the common denominator between Korsgaard and Wang Yangming (王陽明). For liangzhi (良知) is none other than the agency that acts as the capacity for moral judgment and the motivation of performing moral actions. Given liangzhi is the authentic self that make laws for us, our true identities are exhibited in the performance of moral behaviors. Moreover, further engagement between the two sides reveals that Wang’s characterizations of liangzhi, particularly those of practical justification, law-embodying identity, and zhih –zhi (致知), can be seen as either a complement to practical standpoint argument or an approach of consummating self-constitution.

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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.
Creating the Kingdom of Ends.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1996 - Cambridge University Press.
Creating the Kingdom of Ends.James Lenman - 1996 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 1 (4):487-488.
Is Kant a Moral Constructivist or a Moral Realist?Paul Formosa - 2013 - European Journal of Philosophy 21 (2):170-196.

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