Junzi living in Liberal Democracy: What role could Confucianism play in Political Liberalism?

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Abstract

It has been widely argued that East Asian governments should be permitted to promote Confucian values. Recently, Zhuoyao Li rejected this view and advocates that East Asian governments should be neutral to all cultures and religions, including Confucianism. Nevertheless, Li believes that Confucianism does not loses its significance in a political liberal state because Confucians can still propose laws and policies, so long as their proposals are justified by public reason. In this paper, I argue that Li misunderstands the true significance of Confucianism in his model. Under the constraint of public reason, Confucians can hardly give any novel input in public deliberation. Rather, I believe that the contribution of Confucianism is to educate citizens to become fully just in the private sphere. Citizens may learn to be unjust if injustices are common in the private sphere. However, a political liberal state would be criticized as being overly invasive if it directly regulates the private sphere. Hence, I propose a division of educational labour between political liberalism and Confucianism in the public and private sphere. Finally, I use the Confucian workplace as an example to show how rituals in the workplace can enhance citizens’ sense of justice in the private sphere.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-28
Number of pages12
JournalThe Philosophical Forum
Volume52
Issue number1
Early online date1 Feb 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

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