Antong Liu

Antong Liu is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science, specializing in political theory and taking an interest in the study of comparative political thought. He received his LL.B. in International Politics and Sociology at Peking University (2012) and M.A. in Political Science at Duke University (2014). He was also a visiting Ph.D. student in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Hong Kong in fall 2016. He works on the modern history of political thought, with a focus on political passion and ethics.

His dissertation, The Civic Ethics of Honor in the Political Theory of Rousseau, Smith, and Kant deals with a problem intrinsic to the modern state: How can it be possible for citizens to not only obey the rule of law by which the modern state arbitrates conflicts among individuals and social groups, but also remain willing to resist the injustice that may originate exactly from the state or dominant social groups?  In response to this problem, he explores the way in which several prominent thinkers of the 18th century (Rousseau, Smith, and Kant, in particular) transformed the seemingly quixotic sense of honor into a motivation for modern citizens to stand up to injustice without themselves becoming vengeful and unjust. As a legacy of Medieval chivalry and a uniquely structured moral motivation, the sense of honor is characterized somewhat paradoxically by an individual's sensitivity to the praise and blame of social opinion and his independence precisely therefrom. Its secularized and democratized version symbolizes the efforts of the 18th century to make pre-modern ethics work in modern conditions, and could remain useful for democratic citizens today to stand up to injustice without being much attracted to vigilante justice.

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