Actions, paths, and rational reconstruction : replies to Mele, Beebe, and Jiang

Yujian ZHENG

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article responds to the three commentators on the author’s 2017 Dao best annual essay and features some further clarification or elaboration of certain argumentative lines in the original essay.

Thanks to Mele’s helpful mentioning of Ainslie’s work, I have an opportunity to elaborate the aspect in which Ainslie’s intra-personal model (of “free market” of competing temporal interests) seems particularly relevant to meeting the challenge posed by Paradoxes of Irrationality. In response to Beebe’s main query, I further clarify the strict, subjective irrationality from ordinary attributions of irrationality and point to a distinction between ex ante vs. ex post perspective of viewing reasons for action. My response to Jiang is largely around how to interpret the Mencius-Xunzi dispute on human nature: I tend to treat the natural-ideal bond itself as (diachronically and retrospectively) normative as opposed to Jiang’s descriptive construal.

Some important common concerns among the commentators are addressed against some broader theoretical backdrop drawing on ideas such as causal path and rational reconstruction, especially in their relations to what I call ‘diachronic holism.’
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-630
Number of pages12
JournalDao : A Journal of Comparative Philosophy
Issue number4
Early online date7 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • irrationality
  • rational reconstruction
  • Picoeconomics
  • Mencius-Xunzi dispute
  • hidden normativity


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