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Confucian Perfectionism: A Proposal To Integrate Confucian Values And Democratic Institutions

Confucianism still has much to offer to modernity, but to be able speak effectively to the new social and political environment, it needs to undergo a “creative transformation” that integrates the best of Confucianism and Western liberal democratic thought. In particular, Contemporary Confucians must develop a viable method of governance that can retain the spirit of the Confucian ideal while tackling problems arising from nonideal modern situations.  The best way to meet this challenge, I argue, is to adopt liberal democratic institutions that are shaped by the Confucian conception of the good rather than the liberal conception of the right. To do this, we must adopt a perfectionist perspective so as to decouple liberal democratic institutions from their popular liberal philosophical foundations, and then ground them on Confucian principles and redefine their roles and functions. Liberal democratic institutions and their associated rights are therefore assessed in light of the Confucian conception of the good life and society, and meshed with Confucian values in a way that strengthens both.



Wednesday, March 9, 2016. 04:00 PM


Lathrop Library - Room 224, 518 Memorial Way


Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, Center for East Asian Studies, Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law




Free and open to the public.