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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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The Role of Institution

The Role of Institution

(p.65) Chapter 3 The Role of Institution
Confucian Perfectionism

Joseph Chan

Princeton University Press

This chapter argues that although the Confucian ideal of the authoritative ruler–ruled relationship is an attractive ideal that would appear to be relevant even in contemporary democratic societies, in reality not all officials are trustworthy and genuinely care for the people. Here arises the challenge of how to properly handle the interplay between the ideal and reality. On one hand, there should be a social device that helps prevent officials from abusing power and removes bad officials from office; on the other hand, such a device must be able to express the Confucian ideal relationship and hopefully also promote it. The solution lies in the nature of institutions, which are devices that simultaneously perform socially useful tasks to tackle real-life problems and uphold standards of normative appropriateness that express ideal aspirations.

Keywords:   Confucianism, ruler–ruled relationship, democratic societies, bad officials, social device, institutions

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