Confucian Family for a Feminist Future

Asian Philosophy 22 (4):327-346 (2012)
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The Confucian family, not only in its historical manifestations but also in the imagination of the Confucian founders, was the locus of misogynist norms and practices that have subjugated women in varying degrees. Therefore, advancing women’s well-being and equality in East Asia may seem to require radically transforming the Confucian family to approximate alternative ideal conceptions of the family in the West. This article opposes such a stance by arguing that (1) Western conceptions of the family may be neither plausible nor feasible in traditionally Confucian societies and (2) the Confucian family, once reconstructed in line with Confucianism’s core ideas and values, can be conducive to a feminist future in East Asia that is uniquely Confucian. In order to support my position, not only influential contemporary Western ideal conceptions of the family from the justice perspective and care ethics, but also different interpretations of the Confucian family will be carefully examined.

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Ranjoo S. Herr
Bentley College


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