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Against Political EqualityThe Confucian Case$
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Tongdong Bai

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691195995

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691195995.001.0001

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A Confucian Theory of Rights

A Confucian Theory of Rights

(p.240) 9 A Confucian Theory of Rights
Against Political Equality

Tongdong Bai

Princeton University Press

This chapter shows that some of the Confucian ideas, though apparently in conflict with some of the “democratic ideas” or ideas considered essential to rights, can be made compatible with rights. But clearly, Confucians have a more ambitious agenda. Given the Confucian continuum and harmony model between the private and the public, they also reject the mainstream liberal idea that the state should remain value-neutral, and stay out of the realm of the private. Instead, the state has a duty to promote virtues, including some of those that are considered to be in the realm of the private. For a liberal democracy to function well, the promotion of some virtues is necessary. That is, the virtues a liberal state needs to and should promote have to be “thicker” than what the liberal value neutrality or even a later Rawlsian would endorse.

Keywords:   rights, virtues, theory of rights, John Rawls, liberal democracy, compatibility, Confucian animal rights, liberalism

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