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Confucian PerfectionismA Political Philosophy for Modern Times$
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Joseph Chan

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691158617

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691158617.001.0001

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What Is Political Authority?

What Is Political Authority?

(p.27) Chapter 1 What Is Political Authority?
Confucian Perfectionism

Joseph Chan

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers early Confucian views on the nature, purposes, and justifications of authority. Rejecting an interpretation of Confucianism that treats authority as an ownership right to be possessed by the monarch or the people, the chapter proposes a Confucian perfectionist perspective that takes the well-being of the people and their willing acceptance of political rule as fundamental to the legitimacy of political authority. The Confucian perfectionist perspective makes two connections between authority and the good life. First, authority instrumentally serves the well-being of the people. Second, the constitutive mutual commitment of the governing and governed is an ethically valuable and satisfying relationship that contributes to the good life.

Keywords:   Confucianism, authority, perfectionist perspective, political rule, monarch, good life

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