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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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Individual Autonomy and Civil Liberties

Individual Autonomy and Civil Liberties

(p.131) Chapter 6 Individual Autonomy and Civil Liberties
Confucian Perfectionism

Joseph Chan

Princeton University Press

This chapter introduces a new Confucian perfectionist approach to individual autonomy and civil liberties. Confucianism has often been criticized for failing to recognize individual autonomy. But Confucian ethics does promote individual moral autonomy, in the sense that the moral agent must voluntarily accept the demands of morality and reflectively engage in the moral life. To a considerable extent, this notion supports toleration and freedom, since a highly restrictive or oppressive moral environment is harmful to the development of a genuine moral life. To cope with the demands of a fast-changing, pluralistic society, Confucian ethics must incorporate a moderate notion of personal autonomy in the wider sense that people should have the freedom to form life goals and chart a personal path of life.

Keywords:   individual autonomy, civil liberties, Confucian ethics, moral agent, freedom, pluralistic society, moral autonomy

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