2017 Dao Annual Best Essay Award 

Professor Yong Huang, Editor of Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy, announces: 

Results of the 2017 Dao Annual Best Essay Award 

Dao has established “The Annual Best Essay Award” since 2007. In addition to a certificate of achievement, the award comes along with a prize of US$1,000. The award winners are noted in the website of the journal as well as the website of Springer, the publisher of the journal. The award ceremony is held each year at the American Philosophical Association Annual Meeting (Eastern Division) in January, where a special panel on the theme of the award winning essay is held. The critical comments and the author’s responses to them presented at the panel, after revision, will be published in the last issue of Dao each year.

The selection process consists of two stages. At the beginning of each year, a nominating committee of at least three editorial members, who have not published in Dao in the given year, is established. This committee is charged with the task of nominating three best essays published in the previous year. These three essays are then sent to the whole editorial board for deliberation. The final winner is decided by a vote by all editorial board members who are not authors of the nominated essays.

The editorial board has just finished its deliberation on the best essay published in 2017, and the award is given to: 

Yujian Zheng, “Interpretational Paradox, Implicit Normativity, and Human Nature: Revisiting Weakness of Will from a Perspective of Comparative Philosophy.” Dao 16 (2017): 145-163.

A well-constructed and tightly articulated study, the essay engages a range of existing works on the contested issue of the weakness of will from a comparative perspective, with a refreshed look at the Davidsonian paradox of irrationality. It develops and proposes a unifying thesis about a type of dynamic normativity that helps both explain the relation between destiny (ming )  and human nature (xing  ) in the Mencius more robustly and shed some penetrating light on the seemingly dual status of “the Plato Principle” (“no one willingly acts counter to what he knows to be best”) in light of what the author terms Chinese diachronic holism. The duality involved, indicating some tension between its descriptive vs. normative aspects, serves to reveal the idea that humans not only have natural roots similar or homologous to animals but also have a natural-cum-normative destiny to become fully rational and moral. It exemplifies the type of comparative philosophy Dao aims to promote.

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