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Frontiers of Philosophy in China

ISSN 1673-3436

ISSN 1673-355X(Online)

CN 11-5743/B

Postal Subscription Code 80-983

Front. Philos. China    2019, Vol. 14 Issue (3) : 363-383
Tricking or Benefitting the People? Guanzi on Objective Government and Subjective Preferences
Henrique Schneider()
Nordakademie, K?llner Chausee 11, Elmshorn 25335, Germany
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This paper discusses Guanzi’s philosophy regarding how the state should levy taxes. As Guanzi writes, people react individually to what they perceive as taxes, whereas government wants people not to react at all and simply pay the levies. Based on a philosophical analysis of human action, Guanzi suggests introducing a consumption tax on salt and iron. First, people have no way of evading them; second, because of the implicit character of the tax, people will not notice it. Therefore, these taxes will not influence behavior. This paper uses this discussion as a case study in order to show how Guanzi’s philosophy differs from other forms of Legalism. It will be shown that Guanzi is foremost a pragmatic thinker willing to use Confucian and Legalist elements, amalgamating them into policy-advice. The paper, however, does not discuss issues of Sinology as they relate to the text of the Guanzi, taking the text instead as a philosophical body.

Keywords Guanzi      Legalism      Confucianism      social philosophy      political philosophy     
Issue Date: 14 October 2019
 Cite this article:   
Henrique Schneider. Tricking or Benefitting the People? Guanzi on Objective Government and Subjective Preferences[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2019, 14(3): 363-383.
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