Democracy without Autonomy: Moral and Personal Autonomy in Democratic Confucianism

Philosophy East and West 67 (1):47-60 (2017)
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The presence and absence of autonomy in Joseph Chan’s democratic Confucianism loom large, but not always in the ways that he maintains. Although Chan claims that his reconstruction of Confucianism for modern democracy can accept some forms of moral autonomy, what he presents does not constitute genuine moral autonomy, and the absence of that autonomy sits in tension with some other aspects of his model. When it comes to personal autonomy, it is the opposite: Chan says that the exercise of personal autonomy can be part of a life well-lived but is not strictly necessary and can be outweighed by perfectionist considerations of well-being and ethics; however, his model incorporates and relies on the exercise of personal autonomy and leaves room for its intrinsic value.
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