This paper attempts to show the compatibility between Confucianism and human rights, first by revisiting the moral philosophy of Mencius, a key founder of the Confucian tradition, then by reconstructing the Mencian-Confucian idea of human rights from the perspective of his moral philosophy. One of my central claims is that not only did Mencius acknowledge core human rights-socioeconomic as well as civil-political-justified by his foundational faith in universal moral equality and human dignity, but he further understood the right to subsistence as an essential part of Confucian-constitutional rights. Contrary to the widely received notion that in Mencian-Confucianism the right to subsistence has an overriding value vis-a-vis civil-political rights, I argue that Mencius (and Confucians in general for that matter) never stipulated such a lexical ranking among rights. I conclude by discussing how the type of Confucian moral reasoning that Mencius employs in justifying the moral value of human rights can be re-appropriated to produce Confucian rights suitable for today.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science
- Economics and Econometrics