David Nivison has argued that Mèngzǐ 孟子 postulates only one source of moral motivation (namely “heart” as the locus of moral emotions or feelings), whereas Mèngzǐ’s rival thinkers such as Gàozǐ 告子 or the Mohist Yí Zhī 夷之 additionally postulate “maxims” or “doctrines” that are produced by some sort of moral reasoning. In this essay I critically examine this interpretation of Nivison’s, and alternatively argue that moral emotions in Mèngzǐ, basically understood as concern-based construals, are often an insufficient source of moral action, and an additional source of moral motivation, specifically a conviction or judgment of what is the right thing to do in a certain situation in question, is often necessary for one to complete a moral action. This implies that Mèngzǐ should be interpreted to postulate two sources of moral motivation just as his rival thinkers do, namely moral emotion on one hand and judgment and practical reasoning on the other.
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