Confucian Democracy and Equality

Asian Philosophy 20 (3):261-282 (2010)
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Abstract

“Confucian democracy” is considered oxymoronic because Confucianism is viewed as lacking an idea of equality among persons necessary for democracy. Against this widespread opinion, this article argues that Confucianism presupposes a uniquely Confucian idea of equality and that therefore a Confucian conception of democracy distinct from liberal democracy is not only conceptually possible but also morally justifiable. This article engages philosophical traditions of East and West by, first, reconstructing the prevailing position based on Joshua Cohen’s political liberalism; second, articulating a plausible conception of Confucian democracy predicated on Confucian conceptions of persons and political participation from the Mencian tradition; and third, exposing the implausibility of the prevailing position in light of the articulation.

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Ranjoo S. Herr
Bentley College

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