Introduction: Confucian Perfectionism's Wary Embrace of Democracy

Philosophy East and West 67 (1):1-2 (2017)
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With the stunning spread of democracy over large swathes of the globe since 1975 seemingly coming to a halt and perhaps receding in recent years, we revisit the question of whether democracy is really compatible with all types of cultures and philosophies, particularly those from Asia, where nearly two-thirds of the world’s population lives. Joseph Chan’s *Confucian Perfectionism: A Political Philosophy for Modern Times* (Princeton University Press, 2014) reconstructs Confucianism in order to meld it with democracy in a mutually advantageous marriage. Democracy can address the dangerous problem of the lack of accountability — the historical record is quite clear about what happens when rulers, even those who are wise and well-meaning, are unconstrained. This, unfortunately, is a problem that Confucianism shares. On the other hand, Confucianism can bring to the table not just virtues in general, but particular virtues that are often sadly lacking and sorely needed in democratic politics such as civility, benevolence, integrity, knowledge, and honesty.
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Archival date: 2018-09-14
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